Viv Wilson

Viv was brought up in Exeter and, leaving school at 15, she joined her mother in running the Buying In Group, which purchased and wholesale’d goods for independent shops in Devon. Aged 17 and driving a 15cwt van, she delivered the required items around the county.

Viv had an early interest in Dartmoor through her uncle, William Lavender who was married to Viv’s mother’s sister. The Lavender’s lived in Dibbe House, South Tawton where William had a business repairing vehicles, delivering batteries and supplying paraffin. Viv has clear memory of ‘going to an Open Day at Wood and another of walking through the quarries with the unfamiliar coloured water....seeing the ponies run near Owlsfoot Garage, stepping off the bus from Exeter at Ford Cross garage to be picked up by uncle and best of all...running like a little maniac with joy on the springy turf at Belstone. That was when I learned to love Dartmoor!’

In 1975, she joined the National Park Committee to run the new guided walk project with grew to having 68 part time paid walk leaders to manage. The project had arisen through Sir John Cripps, the Chairman of the Countryside Commission’s visit to USA where he witnessed young people being encouraged to walk various distances in the national parks for education and enjoyment. Initially she worked in County Hall before being in the vanguard of the move to Bovey Tracey in 1975, first to Courtney House and then to Parke.

Sir Ian Mercer was a tremendous and supportive driving force who, notably, described Viv’s role as ‘managing the people so that they can enjoy what they have come to see’.

In 1986, Viv decided to leave to test the "life begins at....." theory. Moving to Teignmouth, she has been immersed in the town and its life. She has worked for the Teignmouth Herald Express and later the Teignmouth Post as well as putting on Exhibitions and collecting many of the old images of the town.

Photography had always been an interest and she recalls haunting the camera shop in Exeter. Now as part of her work for the National Park, she took photographs, gave illustrated talks and birthed the Dartmoor Visitor newssheet. Her collection of around 1,600 35mm slides, taken mostly between 1970 and 1978, covers Dartmoor’s many facets from plants to landscape, and people to archaeology.