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Minutes of Newark Ramblers AGM 2015

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Minutes of the Newark Ramblers Annual General Meeting held on Sunday 8 November 2015 at Chesters, Main Street, Balderton at 10.00 am.

Present

Bill Bristow, Carol Bristow, Gordon Douglas, Pauline Hall, Marie Legg, James McGill, Judy Price, Mick Price, Anny Jones Sargeant, Peter Sargeant, Margaret Shaw, Carol Wilkinson, Jenny Williams

1)            Apologies for Absence

Brian Aldrich, Christine Aldrich, Mary Caddamy, Dilys Carby, Tony Colton, Jean Everington, Chris Grant, Roma Handley, Alan Hudson, Kate Hudson, Neil Macfarlane, Ken Martin, Ida Mills, Joyce Pedersen, Beryl Rimmer, Maggie Stone, Elaine Thomas, Beryl Walker

2)            Minutes of Last Meeting

The Minutes of the meeting held on 2 November 2014, having been circulated, were unanimously agreed to be an accurate record of that meeting.

3)            Matters Arising

The survey mentioned in the Chairman’s Report (Item 4, 2 November 2014) which David Hunt was organising has not taken place as it was not supported by Central Office.

4)            Chairman’s Report (James McGill)

2015 has been a reasonably successful year for us. Membership numbers are holding up – many thanks to all of you for your continued support. We now have a presence on Facebook and the website is working much better - many thanks to Carol for sorting this out and for much else besides. And we have managed to fill an interesting and varied programme of walks – many thanks to Jenny and Ken for this. And, of course, many thanks to the other members of the committee who have been working hard behind the scenes – Margaret, Marie, Jean and Judy. Special good wishes go to Jenny who is recovering from major heart surgery.

Unfortunately we have lost longstanding members during the year and we record with sadness the deaths of Rodney Cousins, Joan Hallam and Mr Walden from Redmile. I will also mention the memorial seat to Geoff Rix (who did so much to build up Newark Ramblers) which was unveiled on Robin Hood Hill at Oxton yesterday.

It is a constant effort to keep membership numbers stable so thank you to everybody who has tried to recruit new members over the past year. We always have to remember that Newark Group is part of the larger Ramblers organisation, the principal aim of which is preserving and enlarging the rights of way network, a precious and unique national asset. We are much more than a walking group – there are lots of these around, both formal (such as U3A and church groups) and informal (such as networks of friends). I have said this before but it bears repeating that anyone who appreciates walking on a right of way should seriously consider joining Ramblers.

At a national level there have been two major initiatives from Central Office. The first of these is The Big Pathwatch, an attempt to have all the 1 square kilometre squares on the OS Explorer Maps of England and Wales walked by volunteers. After a slow start I can see on the website that squares around Newark are turning green, indicating that they have been walked. If anybody would like more information about this project please contact me.

The other central initiative is to form closer links with Walking for Health programmes with a view to attracting new recruits to Ramblers from Walking for Health ‘graduates’ and, to this end, we have expanded the Committee to include a Health Walks Secretary.

I would also like members to be aware of a Volunteer Training Day which Ramblers are holding in Nottingham on Saturday April 23rd at the CVS building on Mansfield Road. Various sessions are available on topics such as leading walks, Ramblers routes, advice for treasurers, etc. It would be nice to have a decent turnout from local Groups. Further details are available on the Volunteer Zone of the central website (or talk to me after the meeting).

You also need to be aware that our Group is hosting the Nottinghamshire Area AGM which will be held at Norwell Village Hall on Sunday February 7th. Again, it would be nice to have a strong local presence and if anyone would like to help with the organisation, please contact Carol.

Finally, a few words about my own future. I will be putting myself forward later in the meeting for reappointment as Chair. You may or may not reappoint me. I have been in post for three years and would not like to feel that routine is setting in. I think we need to look at the way we run ourselves and how we can make better use of the talents that people could bring to the organisation. I am not sure, for example, how well the committee structure is serving us and whether we ought to try a looser organisational model, not based so rigidly on agendas and minutes. We need to look at ways of attracting new members and we need a much sharper public profile. Something I would like to organise in the near future is an open meeting for everybody to come along and, very informally, toss ideas around. Please contact me after the meeting – without commitment – if this is something that would interest you.

5)            Secretary’s Report (Carol Wilkinson)

Having completed two years as Secretary, I now feel as though I sometimes know what I should be doing! The first year was a real learning curve and this second year has been more of a ‘consolidation’.

The committee has worked really well together to give members a varied programme of walks and social activities and I would like to express my thanks to everyone for their hard work.

During the year I have carried out my duties as Secretary by attending meetings, writing up Minutes, preparing Agendas and dealing with correspondence and emails. Each month I receive a copy of the current membership from our Membership Secretary and take information from that to ensure that I have an up to date list of members and their contact details. I also liaise with Central Office, passing on information to the relevant officer and keeping them updated about changes in our organisation.

I have tried throughout the year to keep members well -informed about what is happening in Newark Ramblers through the email system. I have received some positive comments about this so I hope that it is generally useful and that people do not feel that they are ‘bombarded’ with emails.

One of my duties is to ensure that the Walks Programme is available to members either electronically or as a hard copy. I am pleased to say that the number of members who can now receive information by email has improved and there are now only 28 envelopes to post or deliver.

A few months ago, with the help of Keith Wallace, we set up a Facebook Page for Newark Ramblers and I am regularly publishing details of walks which are about to take place. We have also added photographs and comments about some of the walks. The aim of the Facebook Page was to try and attract more members, especially younger members, but at the moment it is too early to kow if our Facebook presence has had any impact on membership.

Sadly we have lost the following members this year and we send our condolences to their families.

Roldney Cousins, Joan Hallam, Mr D Walden

We also send our best wishes to one of our Committee Members. Jenny had a heart operation in September but I am pleased to say that she is making a good recovery.

Together with Marie, I attended the Area AGM at Edwinstowe in February and I am pleased to say that Newark Ramblers will be hosting the Area AGM in 2016. We have booked Norwell Village Hall and arranged to have two walks during the morning. We are hoping that members will be kind enough to donate cakes so that we can sell them with tea and coffee after the walks and before the AGM.

6)            Treasurer’s Report (Margaret Shaw)

At the year end we had funds totalling £554.17 which means that, for the first time in the four years I have been treasurer, we have made a profit! £66.78.

The income from Central Office was similar to last year (£212 last year and £210.92 this year). The basic allocation for our group for 2015/2016 is £227.48 – this is made up of £95 for the group plus 96p per member (based on 138 members). However I submitted a budget request for £260 for next year so do not know at present how much we will receive.

We made a profit of £16 on social events and received £40 from Ramblers Holidays. The remaining £10 profit was due to reduced expenditure on postage, stationery and programme production as we use email much more now.

Since the year end we have received a further £100 from Ramblers Holidays so this is a good source of income for us. If you are booking a holiday with them you just need to mention that you belong to Newark Group and we will then receive a donation.

Roger Spencer has agreed to examine our accounts again next year.

7)            Web Co-ordinator’s Report (Carol Wilkinson)

After spending an afternoon with James and Keith Wallace when we set up the Facebook Page and looked at the website, I am pleased to say that our Walks Programme is once again available on our own website. I was asked by James to add another tab called ‘Footpaths’ onto the front page of the website so that members have information about any changes, problems etc. If you look on the website you will see this new tab and James’ report about a new footpath at East Stoke.

The Social Events are also shown on the website with information about who to contact to book places.

I think there is more that we could add to the website. If members have any ideas about what they would like to see, please let me know.

8)            Social Secretary’s Report (Marie Legg)

The social events this year have been varied, with two events taking place most months and on the whole they have been well supported.

Winter brings the indoor events, the year starting with the traditional and well-attended Christmas Fuddle, a good walk lead by Rita, followed by lots of good food provided by the Committee.

Food again was on the agenda at the next two events. At the end of January we held a really enjoyable light-hearted Quiz evening; quiz-master Jean with a ‘Faith Supper’ to follow.

More food in March with a Saturday walk followed by an excellent carvery lunch at ‘The Reindeer’ at Edingley. These events were well supported as was a most interesting guided tour of Newark Town Hall which was also in March.

May brought the Treasure Hunt in Southwell – fortunately it was a fine evening for a stroll round the town and it was followed by a fish and chip supper – more food yet again!

Unfortunately the next two events had to be cancelled. The visit to the RSPB Reserve at Langford Lowfields must have been one of the wettest evenings of the summer; however we are hoping to be able to re-arrange it for next year.

A day at Pleasley was another disappointment – two walks had been arranged and afterwards we were going to view the village Well Dressing. However, the car park was closed due to vandalism so we had to abandon our visit.

Theatre trips have been as popular as ever; thanks to Beryl and Carol we have booked the seats so early that we had excellent views. We supported Newark Amateur Operatic’s production of ‘The King and I’ and had three trips to the Robin Hood Theatre with another one to come later this month. We have made four visits to the ballet during the year to watch ‘Swan Lake’, ‘Giselle’ and ‘1984’ and the year ended on a high note on Thursday evening with a visit to ‘The Snow Queen’ at the Palace Theatre in Newark – a wonderful evening to round off the year!

Two interesting events are about to take place – Carol is organising a Ceilidh on Saturday 20 November at Winthorpe Commuity Centre – tickets are available today. We are hoping to promote Newark Ramblers by decorating a tree at the Christmas Tree Festival in Newark Parish Church which is being held from 5 to 13 December. Why not pop in and have a look?

Finally, I would like to thank you for your support and hope you will continue to enjoy social events next year.

Bill Bristow said that tickets for the Brass Band Concert on 19 December are £12 and not £10 as advertised. Carol was asked to change the details on the website.

9)            Footpath Secretary’s Report (James McGill)

I continue to be active in footpath work at both Group and Area level. The latter has been reorganised so that the county is divided into districts coterminous with local authority boundaries, each district being the responsibility of a District Coordinator (DC). I am the DC for Newark and Sherwood and pass on any news of footpath developments through the Newark Ramblers website – some of you may have seen, for example, about the new riverside footpath at East Stoke. I have also set up a system with the District Council whereby I am asked to comment on any planning application for a development within 50 metres of a Right of Way.

Thank you to members who also act as Parish Footpath Wardens and thank you to those who have participated in the Ploughing and Cropping Surveys organised by the County Council.

Jenny asked if anyone is doing the Southwell survey. She added that she did it in April but is unable to do it again at the moment due to ill health.

James added, following a question about the condition of footpaths, that Stephen Tipping, who had been the Rights of Way Officer at Newark & Sherwood, had moved on and is not being replaced until the new financial year. However, James said he has a good relationship with Newark & Sherwood and quickly receives a response from any correspondence. All footpath queries will now have to wait until someone is appointed.  

10)          Walk Co-ordinators’ Report (Ken Martin)

The Wednesday walks continue to be well supported; the Sunday walks less so though the latest 3 month programme is probably the most comprehensive list of Wednesday and Sunday walks we have had for a while. Thanks to all those who have volunteered to lead those walks. However, it is a neverending problem that Jenny and I have that as soon as one quarterly programme is put together then we need to start putting together the next programme. So, currently we are in need of walks and walk leaders for the Janary – March programme by the end of November, if possible, in time for the Fuddle on 13 December.

James thanked Ken and Jenny for putting together such a varied programme of walks.

11)          Area Representative’s Report (James McGill)

I remain on the Area Council as Groups Officer. The main change this year has been the setting up of a Communications Group (of which I am a member). This has resulted in the development of a new Area website. Nottinghamshire Walker has ceased as a paper publication and will in future come out electronically every six months. There will also be a regular newsletter coming out by email to all members who have submitted their email address to Central Office.

12)          Membership Secretary’s Report (Jean Everington)

Current membership is 137.

We have had 24 new members over the last year. Sadly this also means we have had 19 members who, for various reasons, have not rejoined. It’s not always possible to find out why they are no longer members. Some have moved out of the area, some have passed away but some just decide not to rejoin.

However, it’s very encouraging to have this many new members and we hope to continue this trend.

Bill Bristow commented that membership numbers are good and that we have a reputation for being a friendly group.

James suggested that new members should be approached personally to find out what they want to get out of being a member of Newark Ramblers. Bill suggested that we could hold a New Members evening. James said that statistics show that 70% of ramblers are not known to their group.

13)          Map Secretary’s Report (Judy Price)

No maps have been borrowed this year.

14)          Election of Officers             

 

Name

Proposed

Seconded

Chair

James McGill

Marie Legg

Carol Wilkinson

Secretary

Carol Wilkinson

Bill Bristow

Pauline Hall

Treasurer

Margaret Shaw

Carol Wilkinson

Marie Legg

Website Secretary

Carol Wilkinson

James McGill

Pauline Hall

Social Secretary

Vacancy

 

 

Footpaths Officer

James McGill

Pauline Hall

Carol Bristow

Maps Secretary

Judy Price

James McGill

Bill Bristow

Walks Coordinators

Ken Martin &

Jenny Williams

Marie Legg

Margaret Shaw

Membership Secretary

Vacancy

 

 

Area Representative

James McGill

Pauline Hall

Peter Sargeant

Walking for Health Co-ordinator

Marie Legg

James McGill

Carol Wilkinson

Committee

Vacancy

 

 

 

15)          Any Other Business

James suggested that we should hold an Open Meeting for members to talk about the organisation in general and whether or not having a formal committee is the best way of managing the group.

Jenny thanked everyone for all the support she had received in recent weeks following her operation; visits, phone calls, food. Gordon added his thanks too.

James said that it is important to remember that we are not just a walking group, we are also members of a larger group, the Ramblers Association whose aim is to preserve and increase the number of Rights of Way. He urged members to encourage all walkers to join the Ramblers Association.

Marie asked for ideas for decorations for the Ramblers Christmas Tree which will be part of the Christmas Tree Festival in Newark Parish Church.

Bill Bristow offered his thanks to the committee for all the work they do.

There being no further business the meeting was closed.

16)          Date and place of next Annual General Meeting

The 2016 AGM will take place on 6 November 2016 at Chesters, Main Street, Balderton

The Chesters has been booked for next year.

 

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