Unfortunately, current events mean that we can’t meet together for our usual area council meeting. So, instead, we went on-line and used Zoom to at least be able to hold some sort of meeting. 17 members from the area went on-line and there were only a few technical issues.
I won’t use photos of everyone in the Zoom meeting as some people (well, primarily, me, Julian) need a hair-cut (that’s happening this week, woooo), but above is Richard May, confidently chairing the meeting.
We hope that we can return to normal in future meetings, but perhaps we can look at having an on-line element to them to allow for more people to engage with them.
It was great to hear today from groups that were embracing social media and WhatsApp, using this as a tool to attract new members. Lockdown has made more people think about exercise, and we’re ready to help people get walking and make new friends.
There was also discussion about things such as risk assessments, the less exciting side of these meetings perhaps, but important to show that we’re taking the safety of walkers and communities seriously.
We’re sending out a programme to members, to help them feel informed of what’s going on. We can’t list walks in this one, but we’ll be publishing a printed programme again as soon as walking is more back to normal.
The inspirational core officers of Norfolk Area Ramblers, the secretary, Ken Hawkins, the chair, Richard P May and the treasurer, Peter James.
This year’s AGM was wonderfully hosted by Norwich group at Great Witchingham Village Hall and started with a walk around the local area, including along Marriott’s Way and we also stopped off at St. Faith’s church at Little Witchingham.
The walkers set off.
This is the church at Little Witchingham, which is now in the care of the Churches Conservation Trust. More about the church here…..
The wall paintings inside the church date from as early as the fourteenth century and it is a magnificent piece of history.
An innovation started by Richard May (right) was the introduction last year of an award to the group which had seen the largest increase in members. The first winners last year were Hike Norfolk, and this group won it again, with a 25% increase in membership. Congratulations to the group’s chair, Łukasz Banka, who couldn’t make it to the meeting, so Julian White (left, the younger one of the two people in the photo) collected the award on behalf of Hike Norfolk.
Congratulations to Norwich group who came second, with the award now hotting up, as there’s a similar policy to Brazil and the World Cup. When they won the World Cup for the third time, they were allowed to keep the trophy, so there’s a chance Hike Norfolk will be clearing a space on their collective mantelpiece for the permanent award. And Richard will be buying a new trophy.
During the meeting we heard from Peter James about the work that he’s been leading with working parties, where the Ramblers get involved directly with repairing footpaths and improving accessibility. Ken also gave an update on the Local Access Forum and we received positive news about the national membership numbers of the Ramblers.
After the main part of the meeting and formalities, we received a presentation from Jack Cornish (left) and Chris Hodgson (right).
Jack is the programme manager for Don’t Lose Your Way, which is a campaign to ensure that we don’t lose 10,000 miles of paths after 2026. There’s more information about this project on the Rambler’s web-site. Jack gave an interesting talk about the challenges ahead, as well as the opportunities, including more information about the on-line mapping scheme launching later this week.
Chris, the chair of Ramblers Cymru, gave an upbeat assessment of the organisation and provided food for thought (we hadn’t had the cakes yet incidentally, as the chairman makes us wait until the end….) about some new ways of engaging with current members and the community.
Richard, Jack and Chris then answered questions on a number of different areas, before then Richard confirming that we could eat the cakes.
The main event (well, for those who are very food orientated), the cakes kindly made by Norwich group members. A rather lovely selection.
We always welcome members and those interested in our work to attend the AGM, as well as encouraging members to get involved with the work of our area committee. We are constantly looking for new volunteers as there’s always plenty to do!
After our successful Festival of Winter Walks in 2018, we’re doing it again! Everyone is welcome to come along for a walk, meet new people and start a new year of getting fit and healthy. There’s a list of walks on our web-site at http://www.norfolkra.org.uk/ and we’re also pleased that we’ve again been featured on BBC Radio Norfolk.
Richard May, the area chair of Norfolk Ramblers, said:
“I’m really pleased to see so many new people walking with our groups, the Festival of Winter Walks was a successful event last year and I know that new friendships were formed during 2019. We know it’s often hard for people to get the confidence to come on a group walk, but we’ll offer a friendly welcome and do get in touch with a walk leader or group in advance if you have any questions or concerns”.
We’d just like to thank everyone who was involved in this year’s Festival of Winter Walks. We had a big turnout on many of the walks and we know many new walkers came along, and we hope that everyone enjoyed their experience. We even had over 20 people to the walk led by Maria from Norwich group on Christmas Day, a great turnout!
Richard, our area chairman, and Heather, walk leader on the first day of the Festival, being interviewed as part of a feature on BBC Radio Norfolk. The theme of the festival was loneliness and isolation, and how Ramblers can help people get healthy and meet new people, and we’ll be running similar projects in 2019.
Hike Norfolk, one of our groups in Norfolk Area Ramblers, held a walk leading training day today to help more walkers feel confident in leading walks. The event, attended by 24 people, was held in Dereham and involved some map training, a rather lovely lunch and then a six-mile walk to practice some of the skills discussed earlier in the day.
We had a lunch spread after all that listening to Richard made people feel hungry. Bev, Jonathan and Steve did a great job in the kitchen making the sandwiches, although there were some comments about the decision of Julian to buy uncut bread. Julian was quite right though (since I’m the one writing this, I define what is correct and what isn’t….) as it looked far more rustic that way.
Richard and Sarah during the hands-on training in the afternoon, where some of us used phones and GPS to navigate the walk, whilst some others used paper maps. We encourage walk leaders to use whichever method that they’re happy with. We were pleased to see the delight on the faces of a couple of members when they realised just how easy having GPX files on phones really was (I exaggerate slightly, but they were definitely pleased).
A mill on the walk in Dereham, which Richard taught people to consider as a landmark to assist in finding our location on paper maps.
Richard, our area chairman, holding up a sign and looking quite heroic. Also, thanks to our area treasurer, Peter James, for dropping off the Ramblers area marquee in the morning, something which proved essential given the rain we had.
The day was a combined social event and training day, which is designed to encourage individual to lead walks. The Ramblers offer hundreds of led walks across Norfolk every month, and we’re really grateful to all of our walk leaders for their hard work. We’re delighted to see new people keen to join their ranks and hope they lead many walks in the future.
Thanks to everyone who helped on the day, it’s much appreciated and following the feedback we received, we’ll do it again next year!
Congratulations to Don Davenport and Dereck Smith from Sheringham Ramblers, who have been awarded certificates for their long service to the organisation.
Dereck Smith has been a loyal servant of Sheringham Ramblers for over twenty years. In that time he has served on the committee for many years as well as being a regular helper at our many social events. However it is as a walk leader that he has made his greatest contribution,always offering 3 walks every booklet (ie, 9 long walks a year). In fact this is the first year that he has had to miss any, after suffering inflammation of one leg-he complained to his doctor that he was having to miss his walks-to which his doctor replied that he was 85! He is now back leading Ramblers as well as his U3A groups as the popular leader he has always been and someone right at the heart of the local group.
Don Davenport has also been a loyal servant of Sheringham Ramblers for over 20 years, has also been a committee man for many years and a regular contributor to the walks booklet, also as a leader of the longer walks. Don also has specialised in themed or event walks in recent years, linking in with the local carnivals. He was a prime mover in taking Cromer into the Walkers are Welcome organisation, and thus like Dereck he has contributed enormously to the well being of a good cross section of local walkers, Ramblers and others. Don is well known to all at Sheringham Ramblers and well respected.
Richard May, the area chairman of Norfolk Ramblers, said:
“It is always a great pleasure to present awards to members that have done so much for walkers in Norfolk, and to recognise all of their hard work. Ramblers, both in Norfolk, and GB wide, achieves great things because of our many dedicated volunteers. Congratulations to Dereck and Don, for their well deserved awards”.
As part of the update on the England Coast Path, Lord Gardiner, the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Rural Affairs, came to visit Norfolk to see how the project was progressing. On the morning of 1 September 2017 he visited Great Yarmouth, where he sampled a newly constructed boardwalk built to provide improved access to the beach there, linked to the England Coast Path.
Four RA members, three of them on Norfolk’s Area Council, met him at Waxham – Richard May (Chair), Ian Mitchell (Footpath Co-ordinator), Ken Hawkins (Secretary) and Catherine Hawkins. Ken and Catherine had surveyed the England Coast Path proposals before implementation; Ken and Ian had met several times with NE staff to discuss RA views, and drafted the formal RA response to the NE proposals when they were issued. All three had subsequently taken various roles in making comments for improvements to Norfolk County Council after the two stretches were opened.
Lord Gardiner made plenty of opportunities to talk (and listen) to all present – Natural England staff, members and staff from Norfolk County Council, Martin Sullivan (Chair of Norfolk Local Access Forum) and the contingent from The Ramblers. He came across as knowledgeable of both the context and specific issues, and expressed interest in the wider environment (eg the sea defences at Sea Palling, and the pipes which had come adrift and were awaiting ‘rescue’). He also generously bought ice creams for everyone in the party from a van parked at the start/end of our short walk.
Comment had been made to Lord Gardiner that we thought it would be beneficial to local businesses in widening their season. This had been taken up with an interview at Great Yarmouth (Munchies), and a similar discussion was had over lunch at the Waxham Barn Café, where he spoke both to the owner Helen and a member of her staff who walked to her job there from Sea Palling, in preference to using the road (which was derestricted and without a footway for a substantial part of its length).
The Minister was responsive and interested in hearing about the concerns of the Ramblers and we hope to continue that engagement. We were also pleased to see the level of media interest on the day, with Anglia TV covering the event. The day was a great success and we’re delighted to see progress being made on the England Coast Path, a project which the Ramblers has been heavily involved with both locally and nationally.
Ramblers’ General Council, which is the national organisation’s annual meeting, took place on 1st and 2 April 2017 in Southampton. Four of us went from Norfolk, with Richard May going as a trustee candidate, Julian White and Peter James going as delegates and Ian Mitchell going as a visitor.
There was a walk before the formal proceedings of General Council began and this went around Southampton Common. The local Hampshire group led this and ensured that we given some interesting historical facts and it was a great opportunity to meet other delegates from across the country.
The meeting was opened and chaired by Des Garrahan, the national chairman, who balanced a professional and informal approach. The new Chief Executive made her first speech to General Council and I hope she is able to move forwards on her central theme of improving and enhancing communications. Our new President, Stuart Maconie, was also announced.
Richard May, our area chairman, was standing again for trustee after losing out last year. He was one of 15 candidates, although one didn’t turn up to General Council because of other commitments, and one, Hugh Dyer-Westacott (who has written a book), withdrew during the event.
With regards to the motions, Norfolk area had an amendment to motion 4 on ploughing and cropping.
Motion 4 was proposed by SYNED (South Yorkshire and North East Derbyshire) group. They opposed our amendment and we felt, after discussion with them, that General Council would likely not support our amendment based on these comments. We decided on that basis to withdraw our amendment.
We proposed a motion on funding lost ways, which is essentially about appointing a project officer and establish funding for the 2026 project, also ensuring that volunteers are co-ordinated and offered national assistance. The board of trustees proposed an amendment which we were content with and accepted. Cheshire East proposed a motion which essentially said that we should focus only on key routes, not trying to put in a claim for all footpaths. We opposed this, and it was a close vote, which fortunately went in our favour as the amendment wasn’t passed. Our original motion was though passed unanimously.
The results of the trustee elections was a little complex as there were three places for three years, two places for two years and two places for one year. That meant two elections throughout the day, but in short, the results were:
ELECTED IN FIRST ROUND
Rebecca Dawson – 87
Paul Rhodes – 80
Richard May – 78
ELECTED IN SECOND ROUND
Teri Moore – 80 (will serve two years as a trustee)
Sophie Clisold-Lesstor – 77
Peter Carr – 53 (will serve one year as a trustee)
Peter Rookes – 51
Well done to Richard, our area chairman!
The organisation from the national office was excellent, and there were plenty of staff on hand who made an effort to engage with the delegates. The event ran smoothly in terms of timing, technically and in ensuring all members were able to get their voice heard.
The meeting ended with a contribution from the European Ramblers, and they have a very positive agenda and the Danish chairperson came to speak. She spoke about the importance of getting people out into the countryside, whether on foot, by bike or on horseback.
It was another really useful weekend for everyone who attended, great for meeting other delegates and putting forwards the view of Norfolk Ramblers to the national organisation. Next year’s event will be held in Bangor in April 2018 and anyone who is interested in attending can let us know at any time over the next few months!
It was our annual AGM this week and we were delighted that it was well-attended. It was held in Acle and Great Yarmouth group did an excellent job at leading an interesting walk and ensuring that an extensive range of cakes were provided!
The pre-AGM walk went around the Norfolk Broads and was only partly muddy!
Richard May, the Chairman of Norfolk Area Ramblers, opens up the meeting. Ken Hawkins, our secretary, is on the left and Peter James, our treasurer, is on the right.
Richard presented Ian Mitchell, our Vice-Chairman, with a certificate marking his extensive work to protect the footpaths of Norfolk. He has worked tirelessly, and has a knowledge which is unparalleled in the county, to help the Ramblers and his honour is very well deserved. He now goes on to a national award at General Council in Southampton in early April 2017, and our fingers are firmly crossed.
The wonderful range of cakes provided at the end of the AGM. Walking is important to the Ramblers, but so is food 🙂
Des Garrahan, the national chairman of the Ramblers, gave a talk about the future of the organisation and how volunteers were helping to achieve our aims. He also gave further information about the 2026 deadline of when paths have to be recorded on the Definitive Map to ensure that they are protected.
Lloyd, the beautiful Guide Dog!
Graham, with his guide dog Lloyd, is partially sighted but was able to complete our pre-AGM walk with assistance, showing that this no barrier to walking with the Ramblers! Helen Sismore came from the Guide Dogs for the Blind Association, and gave a fascinating talk on how we could welcome those with sight difficulties and ensure they can take part in walks. There will be a future blog post about this!
Julian White, the External Communications Officer, said:
“This was a lively and interesting AGM where there were discussions covering several areas, particularly regarding the 2026 deadline. It was great to have Des present so that we could ask questions and so that our members could hear more about what is planned. Helen also gave encouragement and ideas on how we could welcome more blind and partially sighted people to our walks. And thanks to Great Yarmouth group for the cakes!”
Following the Norfolk Area AGM on Saturday 27 February a new area committee has been elected.
The new area chairman is Richard May who is also currently a national trustee. Richard paid tribute to the work of Bernard Moore, the retiring chairman, and said:
“Bernard has been area chair in Norfolk for as long as I have been a member of Ramblers, and I would like to thank him personally for all the work that he has put in for the Ramblers in Norfolk. He has done a great job on behalf of Norfolk for many years, and he will be a hard act to follow”.
“I look forward to working with the area council members and the wider membership in Norfolk to continue to keep Ramblers an organisation relevant to the 21st century walker, and hopefully to turn the corner on membership levels and start to grow our membership again”.
The area AGM was held in Upper Sheringham and the Sheringham group offered an excellent welcome with biscuits and wonderful home baked cakes.
We also had an interesting talk from Paul Strong, the Head of Ramblers ICT, who also offered an overview of the meeting. Members were able to get an insight into the complex nature of the operations of the national organisation and see the hard work which under-pinned the Big Pathwatch scheme.
After the formal part of the meeting we were also given a wonderfully entertaining talk by Richard Edwards from Sheringham Coastwatch. More information about this voluntary organisation is available at http://www.sheringhamcoastwatch.org.uk/.