West Berks Ramblers

Working for Walkers

2017 Chairman's Report

Chairman's Report on the year's activities to 30th September

Presented at the AGM held on Friday 17th November 2017 in the Mencap Hall Newbury

I would very much like to thank the committee and officers for their sterling work and support through out the year, in particular Graham Smith for his help and guidance as secretary. They will be giving their own reports. We welcomed Richard Trimmer who volunteered (or allowed himself to be volunteered) to be our new SE Walker correspondent and replaces Denise Buchan. I am totally indebted to Denise for continuing to produce articles for us even whilst abroad. Denise had initially asked to stand down as she said in her own words was losing touch with our activities due to her travelling.

Unfortunately we still currently have 4 vacancies on the committee, Social Secretary, Publicity and 2 General vacancies. We are crying out for a Social Secretary to provide a social programme. The number of events has dropped from 6 to one or two a year. It would be good to have one a month. They can organise events, help others to organise events or even co-opt members to organise/run events but above all we need new and fresh ideas. Equally a Publicity Officer enables the Ramblers to grow and flourish by attracting new members and supporters, promoting the group through local media and publicity stands etc.

As you are more than aware West Berks celebrated its 50th Anniversary on Thursday 2nd March 2017 and a newly installed gate marking the occasion was unveiled on Snelsmore Common by our first ever chairman, Dr John Davies. John cut the birthday cake, which was shared with around 55 members and guests and toasted with bubbly. A memorable day!
Also as part of the years celebrations:

  • We held a “50 Questions for 50 Years” ramblers themed quiz with a fish and chip supper on Friday 10th March kindly organised Richard. A most raucous evening!
  • Members were invited to participate in walking “50 Miles for 50 Years” on group walks between 2nd March and end of June, culminating on the 29th June with an evening at the Diamond Tap including hot buffet. Thanks must go to Chris for organising the evening.
  • On the 2nd May there was the 50th anniversary walk based on the first recorded walk of the group. A 6.3 mile circular walk across Greenham Common, through Newbury returning along the towpath to Thatcham and celebratory cakes!

West Berks Ramblers also celebrated the 25th anniversary of the inauguration of the Lambourn Valley Way on the 11th July 1992. A celebratory bench was unveiled on the route between Eastbury and East Garston on 9th August by Dr John Davies. Afterward members retired to the Plough Inn at Eastbury for dinner.

Richard organised for a group of 13 members to stay at the HF holiday held at Freshwater Bay, IOW. We enjoyed a week of varied walking in mainly sunny weather ranging from glorious coastline to downs and forest. In September members also enjoyed a week of varied walks in and around Bellac, central France kindly organised by Richard North.

On the 11th August Colin Honeybone installed his last gate as leader of the gate installation team. This was his and the groups 269th installation. A phenomenal achievement. It was also Brian Atkin’s last gate (53 in total). Members then retired to the Bull PH in Stanford Dingley for a ‘cake and ale celebration’.

The last of the summer coach walks took place on the 10th September. Notable for being Joan’s very last coach walk.

It was noted that some members were concerned that the coach walk season should not be run at a loss so for 2018 our coach seat price has now been increased to £12. Journey time has also been increased to 1½ to 2 hours to allow new areas to be discovered. The coach walks being envisaged for next year were to Cheddar, Chichester, Swanage, Bradford on Avon, Farnham or Stroud and the Blackwater Valley (Aldershot). This seasons walks were going to make a small deficit and it was agreed that this should be covered from funds from the social account.
Whilst it was important that the coach programme did not run at a loss, the committee did not see any reason why a surplus in earlier years could not be absorbed by a loss in later years.
The social account was kept separate from the charitable activities account to allow social events to within reason be run without having to worry about whether they might make a loss.

Special thanks must go to Roy for continuing to patiently put our walk programmes together, to Fiona for organising the work parties to maintain and improve the rights of way in West Berkshire, to the coach committee for organising a varied selection of walks to enable us to discover new areas further a field and above all to all our walk leaders, old and new. We can pride ourselves on our comprehensive walks programme and essentially what makes West Berks Ramblers the healthy club it is today.

Some statistics:
We have totalled 240 walks at an average 4½ per week at a total distance of 1804 miles with an average of 7.5 miles per walk. There were 33 leaders, two leaders, Shona and Chris have led nearly 30 walks each and Joan Cockett and Joan Crosbee nearly 20 walks each.

Lastly, Ramblers membership for the Berkshire area as a whole has been on a steady decline over the last few years and so it is important that we make new members feel welcome. We would like to see them again!

Stephen Ormrod 14 November 2017

Monday, December 11, 2017