Newark Ramblers AGM 2014

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Minutes of the Newark Ramblers Annual General Meeting held on Sunday 2 November 2014 at Chesters, Main Street, Balderton at 10.30 am    

Present

Carol Bristow, Beryl Bunkle, Mary Caddamy, Gordon Douglas, Jean Everington, Joan Hallam, Marie Legg, Catherine Lowe, Hazel Marshall, Ken Martin, James McGill, Judy Price, Mike Price, Jean Quickenden, Rita Rippin, Anny Jones Sergeant, Peter Sergeant, Margaret Shaw, Elaine Thomas, Beryl Walker, Carol Wilkinson, Jenny Williams

  1. Apologies for Absence

Brian Aldridge, Christine Aldridge, Bill Bristow, Dilys Carby, Don Craigen, Jill Craigen, Jo Dennett, Jacob Florijn, Chris Grant, Pauline Hall, Stella Hopewell, Alan Hudson, Chris Maxwell, Neil Macfarlane, Ida Mills, Janet Rix, Peter Scorer, Vivien Scorer, Margaret Stone

  1. Minutes of Last Meeting

The Minutes of the meeting held on 3 November 2013, having been circulated, were unanimously agreed to be an accurate record of that meeting.

  1. Matters Arising

There were no matters arising from the Minutes.

  1. Chairman’s Report (James McGill)

Once more we have had an interesting year and further details will be revealed in the various reports.

The role of the Chairman is largely ceremonial and it’s the other members of the Committee who do the real work. I would like to pass on thanks to Carol Wilkinson at the end of her first year as Secretary for her efficiency and industry as well as taking over the running of the website. The rest of the team has performed sterling work over the year – Margaret Shaw as Treasurer, Jean Everington as Membership Secretary, Marie Legg in her dual role as Walks Coordinator and Social Secretary, Judy Price as Maps Secretary and two ‘members without portfolio’, Ken Martin and Jenny Williams.

Two things I have done, however, are:

      1. to adopt a written constitution for the Committee. This is based on the model constitution for Groups recommended by Central Office;

      2. to introduce written job descriptions for the various posts held by Committee members.

Thank you, too, to all members of the Newark Group for supporting Ramblers both nationally and locally. And, of course, thank you to everybody who has come along today.

My plans for next year include the possible participation of Newark Ramblers in a survey which David Hunt, the Area Chairman, is organising on behalf of Central Office to try and find out more about the 70% of our members who are allocated to a Group but play no part in the Group’s activities.

Sadly during the course of the year we have lost three longstanding members, Gill Findlay, Mr J Neat and Sylvia Crabtree

On a happier note, two of our regular walkers married during the year and we send our congratulations and best wishes to Peter and Anny.

  1. Secretary’s Report and Web Co-ordinator’s Report (Carol Wilkinson)

It was at last year’s Annual General Meeting that I was elected as Secretary of Newark Ramblers. I had been walking for a couple of years with the group on Wednesdays and I knew a few people but all the ‘behind the scenes’ stuff had managed to pass me by. The other committee members were very supportive and I quickly became part of the ‘team’.

I had a meeting with the outgoing Secretary, Pauline, who was very helpful. James was keen to make sure that all the roles within the group were well defined and he put together Job Descriptions. This was very useful and now each officer is aware of his/her particular responsibilities.

I also had a meeting with Dallas who showed me how to use the website and webmail. I must say I found this quite complicated at first but Dallas was very patient and sent me some very useful notes. Unfortunately, after a few months, Dallas decided to resign from Ramblers. It was at this time that I decided to offer to be the Website Secretary too as I could see that it would be more efficient to keep the website up to date myself than to ask someone else to do things all the time. There are times when I wonder if this was a good move! During the summer the national Ramblers website had something of an overall and the Walks Finder was shut down for about 6 weeks. This meant that we couldn’t add any new walks to the site or change any other information. Following the changes I found that it was no longer possible to add or change information through Newark Ramblers website but that I had to go through the national Ramblers Association website. I also discovered that the Newark Ramblers website only shows the next 2 or 3 walks and that members have to access the national site to see the whole programme. I have sent out an email to members with instructions on how to access the programme of walks and I hope that this is useful. If there are other changes or easier ways to do things, I will send them out as and when I find out about them.

One of my regular tasks is to check the webmail. I receive lots of requests for information about forthcoming walks, emails from members of other local groups asking to join one of our walks and, occasionally, a request to join Newark Ramblers.

I have liaised closely with Jean Everington regarding membership and I now have an up to date database of my own which is easy to change and can be ordered to give information in different formats, eg alphabetical, date of joining etc. I was very keen to increase the number of members who can be contacted by email as this is not only quicker and easier but also cheaper. When I sent out the AGM notice I sent the majority by email but for those members without an email address I added a note asking them to let me know if they are now on the internet. This was very successful and I have had at least 10 responses.

I am keen for Newark Ramblers to be inclusive. We have average length walks (5 or 6 miles) each week and once a month a longer walk (7 – 12 miles) but there was nothing specific for our older members who have been loyal to Ramblers for many years. I spoke to Marie about this and we came up with the idea of ‘Interest Walks’ , ie shorter walks (up to 3 miles) with something of interest at the end. This could be a church, a park, a garden centre or a cafe. This idea has been well received and the first walk of this kind at Clumber Park was very successful.

I have thoroughly enjoyed my first year as Secretary of Newark Ramblers and would like to say a big thank you to everyone for their friendliness and support.

  1. Treasurer’s Report (Margaret Shaw)

At the year end we had funds totalling £487.39, which means we had a deficit of £115.78. However, as our funds are now below £500, we will be able to claim more than the basic allowance from Area in future.

The income from Area was up slightly from £207 in 2013 to £212 this year but this was our only income apart from the raffles and quiz which broke even. There was no income from Ramblers Holidays this year so I would urge that if anyone does book a holiday with Ramblers they mention that they belong to the Newark Group and we will then receive a donation.

Our expenditure this year was slightly down from last year mainly due to savings on stationery, postage and programme production as much of this is done by email now.

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

A copy of the examined accounts for the year ended 30 September 2014 had been circulated to members in advance of the meeting.

Carol asked how funding is allocated by Area office. Margaret replied that there is a basic allowance for each group and an additional amount per member if funding is below a certain figure.

  1. Web Co-ordinator’s Report (Carol Wilkinson)

This report was incorporated with the Secretary’s Report above.

  1. Social Secretary’s Report (Marie Legg)

On the social side this year, we have had a varied programme with two events taking place most months, and on the whole they have been well supported.

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

The long-awaited visit to Newark Violin School was very interesting and places were filled within 24 hours of the email being sent out!

Eating always seems to be popular and it was on the agenda at the next two events. In February we held a light-hearted Quiz evening which was arranged by Jean who unfortunately could not be there on the evening. Thank you, Jean also Margaret and Ken for stepping in and running the event. It always surprises me the variety of food which members bring.

More food in March! A walk followed by the usual good lunch at ‘The Plough’ at Farnsfield.

We are pleased to support the Robin Hood Theatre now it is open once more. ‘Educating Rita’ was an excellent show and we have another visit planned in November to see an Alan Ayckbourn comedy. Thank you, Carol for reserving the seats for us.

I would like to thank Beryl for booking the tickets for our 5 visits to the ballet. The shows have been wonderful and by booking so early we had excellent seats. Also Beryl arranged for us to see ‘Guys and Dolls’ at the Palace Theatre.

The summer was full of outdoor events. We were fortunate to have a fine evening for a visit to Flintham where Sue Clayton gave us an interesting tour of the church and the village and we were privileged to visit a unique mud dovecote in someone’s garden. The evening concluded with a very welcome cup of tea in their museum.

More food – James lead an evening walk followed by a curry supper at ‘The Plough’ in Caunton and Ken organised a walk and picnic supper at the Willow Holt in Farndon. Thank you, James and Ken.

The orchids were at their best in Potwell Dike Grasslands in late May. These three visits were held on warm and dry evenings, however not so for the visit to Whisby to see the nightingales! It is the 3rd or 4th visit I have arranged and, true to form, it rained yet again! Graham, the Ranger, arrived, as usual, in his shorts and blamed me for coming on the wrong evening! However, thanks to Graham, we did manage to hear the nightingales although we didn’t see any.

It was disappointing to have to cancel the coach outing to Birmingham in July due to lack of support. Maybe it was the wrong time of the year for a city visit, perhaps we should try again in the Spring?

Finally, I would like to thank you for your support and for remembering to pay for the events so promptly as this makes life much easier for me.

Marie asked members for ideas for social events or coach outings. James said that we could ask Southwell and Collingham Ramblers to join us on coach trips as they are also having problems filling coaches.

Beryl Bunkle suggested a coach trip to Harlow Park, Harrogate where there is good local walking and an interesting visit to the spa town of Harrogate.

  1. Footpath Secretary’s Report (James McGill)

I continue to be active in footpath work at both Group and Area level and am a regular attender at meetings of the Area Rights of Way Committee.

The warden scheme in Newark & Sherwood is now well established with wardens having submitted reports on 32 of the 85 parishes and I would like to thank all the wardens for their energy and efficiency in carrying out this important work. Many of the problems that have been reported have been dealt with such as obstructed footpaths in Bleasby and absent footpath signs and a damaged footbridge in Maplebeck. Longstanding problems at Laxton and Coddington have been resolved. I have also compiled a blacklist of other problems which will need attention, largely involving rights of way in the north-east of Newark & Sherwood.

New wardens are always welcome. Areas that need to be covered are parishes in the Trent valley west of Southwell and parishes in the Sherwood Forest area such as Perlethorpe, Blidworth, Clipstone, etc.

I would like to mention a new footpath that one of our members, Alan Hudson, is trying to open up on Beacon Hill called the Skyline Route. Alan is leading a walk along it on December 10th and it would be nice to have a good attendance.  

James was asked about Footpath maintenance. He said that there is now a more aggressive approach and that Area is thinking of issuing Section 56 Orders(Magistrates Court) but that some of the problem is because of budget cuts at Nottinghamshire County Council. David Hunt has met with people from NCC and the result is that they are paying more attention to footpath maintenance. James added that he has a close relationship with the Rights of Way officer at Newark & Sherwood and that he is doing his best to help us.

James also talked about claims for lost ways. There is a cut off for claims of 2026 and new claims need to be filed as soon as possible. Unfortunately the Definitive Maps Officer has been made redundant and this will produce delays. The Rights of Way Committee at NCC has been abolished and their role has been integrated with other committees who do not meet very often. James confirmed that Area is putting pressure on to NCC regarding lost Rights of Way.

James was asked what can be done about blocked paths because of growth of vegetation. There is no longer a Ploughing and Cropping Survey and Ramblers have to rely on people highlighting paths that are overgrown. NCC has contractors who clear footpaths but there is not enough money to do this on a regular basis. James said that when blocked paths are reported they do get cleared, however, where paths are dangerous they are closed. He added that the footpath at Laxton has been re-opened.

James was asked if members can clear paths, eg with secateurs or shears. James said that secateurs can be used but that shears are considered as an offensive weapon and cannot be used. He added that Derbyshire have an active system of volunteer path clearing but that Nottinghamshire are reluctant to do this.

Rita asked about the law regarding cutting back hedges because of nesting birds etc. Margaret said she thought this had been extended to the end of August but that landowners are still obliged to leave a 3 metre path.

  1. Walks Co-ordinator’s Report (Marie Legg)

I think this has been a year of contrasts!

The Sunday walks which, several years ago, were all that was available to Newark Ramblers, were very popular and well attended but are now almost non-existent. However, the Wednesday walks, which were started a few years ago by a small group of us, are now so well attended that usually there are over 20 people each week and still growing in numbers! We have gained several new members to the group through these walks and members of other Ramblers groups walk with us, remarking that we are a very friendly group.

This year we have been holding longer walks on a Wednesday once a month in different parts of the area and these are also well attended. Now, by contrast we are hoping to start much shorter walks. As we have quite a few members who feel that they cannot walk too far, we thought it would be a good idea to offer shorter walks so that everyone can choose what is best for them. We thought we would call these walks ‘Interest Walks’ and end at an interesting place if possible, eg a church, a garden or even a coffee shop!

I am stepping down after arranging the programme for 9 or 10 years (forget which) and I wish to thank all the many, many leaders over the years for all their help and co-operation and hope they will continue to support the new co-ordinator.

At this point James presented Marie with a plant and thanked her, on behalf of Newark Ramblers, for all the work she had done to put together a programme of walks over the last 10 years.

Jean Everington said that she had put on Sunday walks and that attendance had been poor. Margaret Shaw and Marie Legg said they had experienced the same low attendance on their Sunday walks. Some of the Sunday walks are a long way away and it is disappointing for leaders who turn up and find that no-one is there to take part in the walk.

A discussion followed on why weekends are no longer popular. Family life has changed over the years. Members who used to walk on Sundays when they were working have now retired and choose to walk during the week. Also public transport is difficult on Sundays. It was suggested that walkers could contact leaders in advance or could share lifts. Members said that in the past walkers had met in a car park in Newark. Southwell members still do this – meeting together in Southwell and then filling up cars.   Other groups say that Sunday is their best day for walks. It was agreed that this problem should be revisited at the committee meeting.

Marie said that walks leaders are always needed and that anyone who is nervous about leading a walk would be given help by experienced leaders.

  1. Area Representative’s Report (James McGill)

I remain on the Area Council as Groups Officer. You may remember that I had visited all the Nottinghamshire Groups last year and I eventually put my thoughts together in a paper called ‘Talks and Walks with Nottinghamshire Ramblers’ which was circulated to the membership in April 2014 and will be republished in this year’s edition of Nottinghamshire Walker. I highlighted the excellent work the Groups were doing and made some suggestions for recruitment and retention.

Members may be interested to hear that Ramblers Central Office is not organising Get Walking Week (GWW) next year and is replacing it (for 2015 only) with a one-off project to celebrate Ramblers 80th anniversary. This will involve recruiting 100,000 volunteers to walk and survey every Right of Way in England and Wales.

Keith Wallace, however, who also sits on Area Council, is interested in assessing the Walking for Health programme for recruitment purposes and has been in touch with Central Office. He is thinking about organising a county-wide Nottinghamshire GWW as a cooperative venture with Nottinghamshire County Council and further details should be forthcoming.

James reminded members that the Area AGM would take place on the first Sunday in February at Sherwood Forest YHA. Keith Wallace is organising First Aid training and it is hoped that each group will apply for a place. Anyone interested should contact Jenny Fillingham at the Area Office or Carol Wilkinson who will give you contact details.  

  1. Membership Secretary’s Report (Jean Everington)

At the end of September 2013 we had 134 members. September 2014 it was 129 plus 6 payments pending. We had 16 new members during the year, 14 have left (lapsed, moved or died).

Jean added that she sends a letter/email to new members welcoming them to Newark Ramblers. She also either sends them a copy of the latest Walks Programme or directs them to the website, whichever is appropriate.

James said that there is a national recruitment problem and that he would like each member to make it their New Year’s Resolution to recruit a new member. He also said that he would like to introduce a Recruitment and Retention post and this will be discussed further at the committee meeting.  

  1. Map Secretary’s Report (Judy Price)

One new map was purchased this year – the only one which has been out on loan. The maps are in the hall for members to look at and/or borrow.

Judy asked if members wanted to continue having maps available to borrow. James said he would like to see the continuation of this facility, (if only for sentimental reasons as it was one of the reasons he had joined Ramblers 45 years ago!) as he had found it to be very useful in the past. It was unanimously agreed that maps should be available for members to borrow but that consideration should be given to how members would know about the facility and how it would be promoted in the future. This will be discussed at the next committee meeting.

 

  1. Election of Officers

Position

Nominated

Proposed

Seconded

Chairman

James McGill

Margaret Shaw

Jean Everington

Secretary

Carol Wilkinson

Marie Legg

Judy Price

Treasurer

Margaret Shaw

Jean Everington

Rita Rippin

Website Secretary

Carol Wilkinson

Jenny Williams

Ken Martin

Social Secretary

Marie Legg

Jean Everington

Beryl Walker

Footpath Secretary

James McGill

Ken Martin

Marie Legg

Map Secretary

Judy Price

Carol Wilkinson

Mike Price

Walks Co-ordinators (joint position)

Ken Martin

Jenny Williams

James McGill

Margaret Shaw

Membership Secretary

Jean Everington

Ken Martin

Judy Price

Area Representative

James McGill

Carol Wilkinson

Marie Legg

Committee Member

Vacancy

 

 

Committee Member

Vacancy

 

 

 

Carol Bristow thanked the committee for all their work during the year.

  1. Any other Business

Marie asked if anyone knew where the second First Aid Kit is. This should be passed from walk leader to walk leader each week.

A member asked if it is necessary to take a First Aid kit as there are now so many restrictions on what First Aiders can do. It was agreed that it is good practice to take one.

Margaret said that she had received an invitation from the Mayor for two people to attend the Remembrance Day Service. She asked anyone interested in representing Ramblers at this service to get in touch with her.  

  1. Date and Place of next Annual General Meeting

The next Annual General Meeting will take place on the first Sunday in November 2015. Venue to be decided.