Newark Ramblers AGM 2016

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Minutes of the Newark Ramblers Annual General Meeting held on Sunday 6 November 2016 at Chesters, Main Street, Balderton at 10.45am.

Present

Carol Bristow, Gordon Douglas, Jean Everington, Marie Legg, Ken Martin, James McGill, Ida Mills, Judy Price, Mike Price, Ann Raymond, Charles Raymond, Anny Jones Sergeant, Peter Sergeant, Margaret Shaw, Maggie Stone, Carol Wilkinson, Jenny Williams

1)            Apologies for Absence

Eddie Adams, Mary Caddamy, Dilys Carby, Chris Grant, Marie Grundy, Martin Hall, Pauline Hall, Jenny Meanley, Steve Meanley, Jenny Mees, Joyce Pedersen, Jean Quickenden, Rita Rippin, Janet Rix, Elaine Thomas, Beryl Walker

2)            Minutes of Last Meeting

It was proposed by Carol Bristow and seconded by Marie Legg that the Minutes of the meeting held on 8 November 2015, having been circulated, are an accurate record of that meeting.

3)            Matters Arising

James said how sad we all were to hear of the death of Bill Bristow who attended the meeting last year even though he was ill.  Many Newark Ramblers attended the memorial service at Southwell Minster.  Bill was an enthusiastic member of Ramblers and is sadly missed.  Our thoughts are with Carol and the family.    

4)            Chairman’s Report (James McGill)

2016 has been a successful year for Newark Ramblers.  Numbers have dropped slightly but there have been innovative developments during the year with our first “train walk” and a major feature on the Group in the Newark Advertiser.  There was a successful hosting of the Nottinghamshire Area AGM in Norwell Village Hall and plans are well-advanced for an away-trip next year to the Yorkshire coast.  Despite lack of a formal Social Secretary the social programme has been interesting, varied and well supported including ceilidhs , theatre visits, quizzes, historical walks and visits to a local recycling facility.

For all this, many thanks to our enthusiastic committee, ably organised by our Secretary, Carol Wilkinson, who has been the guiding force behind many of our activities, as well as organising our website and Facebook page.  I would also like to thank Margaret Shaw for being such a competent Treasurer – for historical reasons Margaret is also the person who receives invitations from the Mayor to various functions in the Town Hall such as the Remembrance Day celebrations.  (If any member is interested in representing Newark Ramblers at such functions they should approach Margaret). 

Ann Raymond has been a very welcome addition to the Committee as Membership Secretary – this can be a challenging position from an IT perspective but Ann has slotted into the role seamlessly and efficiently.

Most of the Nottinghamshire Groups are finding it difficult to fill their Walks Programme but Ken Martin and Jenny Williams have between them always succeeded in filling the calendar with varied and interesting walks.  Judy Price and Marie Legg remain stalwart members of the Committee, always ready to help out “behind the scenes” and to make sure we are represented at events such as the Christmas Tree Festival at the parish church.

Marie kindly agreed at the start of the year to take on the new position as the link person between Newark Ramblers and the Walking for Health programme.  We have decided to discontinue this position, however, until we get clearer guidance from Central Office as to what precisely they are looking for.  Although Marie has established contact with local WfH groups, it has not produced any new recruits for us!

It is important for recruitment that we keep in the public eye and 2016 has been very satisfactory in that respect.  Many thanks to everybody – “ordinary” members as well as the Committee. 

5)            Secretary’s Report including Social Events (Carol Wilkinson)

I have now completed three years as Secretary of Newark Ramblers.  As I said last year, the first year was a steep learning curve, the second year one of consolidation and this third year has been a pleasure.  I feel very privileged to be part of Newark Ramblers, to be able to walk every week in the beautiful countryside surrounding our town and in the company of such lovely people. 

The committee has worked well together and I would like to thank every one of them for all their hard work.  I would especially like to thank Ann, our newest committee member, who very kindly offered to become the Membership Secretary part way through the year.

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 from individuals, Area Office and Central Office.   

I aim to keep members well informed about what is happening in Newark Ramblers and within the Ramblers organisation.  This is very easy for members who are on email or who look at our Facebook page but more difficult for members who do not have access to a computer.  These members receive information by post whenever appropriate, eg this meeting and the quarterly programme of walks but for other information I rely on members passing on information to each other.  I think this works reasonably well but if there is a ‘non-email member’ who feels they are missing out, please let me know.   

James, Jean Everington and I attended a Training Day at Nottingham.  We each attended different sessions so that we could cover most of the training on offer.  Jean has sent me the slides from the session on Leading More Challenging Walks that she attended.  The session I attended on Leading Successful Short Walks was interesting but there wasn’t really anything new for us.  The course leader was impressed with the number and variety of shorter walks that we offer and was pleased to hear how we are trying to help older members to stay active. 

Newark Ramblers receives invitations to attend several civic events throughout the year and we have to thank Jenny and Gordon who have volunteered to represent us at many of these occasions.

This year the Walks Programme has been put together by Jenny and Ken, both of whom have worked very hard to ensure that we have as many and as varied walks as possible including, this year, our very first Train Walk.  We do try to have walks of different lengths, walks on different days and walks in the evenings.  Our thanks go to our walk leaders for coming forward to offer walks and for liaising with other members in order to have longer or shorter  walks starting from the same point.   All of our walks have been added to the Ramblers website which feeds into our own website.  This means that our members can access walks anywhere in the country and that Ramblers from other areas can come and join our walks.  I am pleased to say that we often have visitors from other areas and that we receive favourable comments about our friendliness. 

As you know, Walking for Health is part of the Ramblers Association and Marie has represented us this year in the Walking for Health programme.  Marie has been in touch with local Walking for Health groups and talked to them about joining the main Ramblers group.  After some consideration, the committee has decided that because of the close link between Walking for Health and the Ramblers Association, we do not need a representative and therefore this position will not be renewed this year.  

Sadly we lost Bill Bristow this year.  He was an active member of Newark Ramblers for many years and attended the AGM here last November.  Many members of Newark Ramblers attended his funeral service in Southwell Minster which Bill, knowing how ill he was, had planned himself.  Our thoughts and best wishes go to Carol and the family.

We have recently heard that Beryl Walker, another long standing member of Newark Ramblers, has been taken ill and our best wishes go to her.  

In December Newark Ramblers took part in the Newark Parish Church Christmas Tree Festival.  Our tree was decorated with the theme of the four seasons and received very favourable comments from visitors.  A photo of our tree appeared in the Newark Advertiser and the reporter promised us a Feature in the newspaper which actually happened in September.  This feature gave us much needed publicity and, as a result, several people have contacted me to find out more about joining our group.  

In February we hosted the Area AGM at Norwell.  This was very well attended though the speaker, Chair of the Board of Trustees, Des Garrahan, came in for quite a bit of criticism.  The tea and cakes went down very well and the walks were much appreciated.  Some of us went on the Norwell Village Walk with Michael Jones, Chair of Norwell Heritage Society, which was so interesting Marie decided to add it to the programme as an evening walk with a meal at the local pub. 

In September the Ramblers Association held their Walk About Festival.  We had three walks during the week and our leaders proudly carried the special flags provided.  We didn’t gain any new members from this week but we all enjoyed the walks.   

Social events are a very important aspect of Newark Ramblers.  They give an opportunity for members to get together to enjoy an evening out, get to know each other a little better and very often to eat together.  Sometimes the ladies even wear dresses! 

This year we have enjoyed many such occasions:

On 13 December the Christmas Fuddle was well attended and members enjoyed a lovely walk led by Rita before tucking into a buffet lunch provided by the Committee.

On 16 December a group of members went to the Odeon in Newark where they watched The Nutcracker, a ballet streamed directly from London.  We have to thank Beryl for organising these visits to see the ballet and the annual trip to watch the show put on by the Amateur Operatics.  

On 17 January, 17 members had a wonderful evening at the Robin Hood Theatre watching Ladies’ Day, a play about four women who left their jobs as fish gutters for one day to visit Royal Ascot when it relocated to York. 

On Monday 18 April, James led a walk from The Plough at Caunton and walkers are able to eat at the pub afterwards.

 ‘Gaslight’ was watched by 10 members at the Robin Hood Theatre on 21 April.  Everyone agreed that this was a very good production. 

On 12 May, James led another short walk from The Angel at Kneesall, again ending with a pub meal.

Our Quiz Evening took place on 14 May with around 20 people attending.  Our thanks go to Jean Everington for once again being our Quizmaster and putting together a quiz that was challenging but not so difficult that it made anyone feel inadequate.  I don’t really want to mention which team won – but it was a good team!  Our thanks also go to everyone who contributed to the Faith Supper. 

The Robin Hood Theatre was once again the venue for our entertainment on 20 May when 5 members attended the Music Hall which was a resounding success.

On 24 May there was a Treasure Hunt around Newark followed by a Fish and Chip Supper at Barnbygate Church Hall.  Pauline and I had great fun putting this together and some people said that they had seen parts of Newark they had never seen before!

On 13 June the historical walk around Norwell  took place and this was followed by a meal at The Plough.

23 June, and 10 of us were once again at the Robin Hood Theatre to see ‘Brief Encounter’.  There were mixed reactions to this production but people generally enjoyed it.

On 29 September, 10 members went to see ‘My Mother Said I Never Should’ at the Robin Hood Theatre.  

On 7 October we enjoyed another Ceilidh, this time at Norwell Village Hall. 76 people attended and Lambskinnet once again provided the music.  Everyone had a great evening. 

Pauline very kindly arranged for members to visit the Veolia Recycling Plant at Mansfield.  Those who attended found it very interesting and many of us are now being more careful about what we put in our recycling bin.  

This year the Christmas Fuddle will be held on 11 December.  We have decided to change the format slightly.  Rita will lead a walk in the afternoon, starting at 2pm, and then we shall all have a Christmas Afternoon Tea at the WI Hall in Southwell.   

Next year we are planning a 3 night trip to Cloughton, near Scarborough staying at Cober Hill.  Once we know who will be going we shall be able to tailor the walks to suit the group.  We will also put together a programme of entertainment for the evenings.  There are still places available so if anyone would like to join us, please let Marie or me know. 

For the coming year, I have a few ideas for social events but would welcome suggestions. 

6)            Treasurer’s Report (Margaret Shaw)

At the year end we had funds totalling £696.88 which means that we have made a profit of £142.71.

This was due to increased income from social events, from Ramblers Holidays and from cake sales at the Area AGM.

The income from Central Office was also £50 more than last year (£260 this year).  Because we made a profit last year I only requested the basic allocation for our group for 2016/17 which is £214.  If we continue to increase our funds we can choose not to request any income from Central Office.

If you are booking a holiday with Ramblers Holidays you just need to mention that you belong to Newark Group and we will then receive a donation.  This is a good way to increase our funds.

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

Copies of the audited accounts were available to members.

Carol asked what we are allowed to spend surplus income on.  James replied that it can be anything that supports the charitable aims of the Ramblers Association.    

The question of payment of expenses for recces was brought up.  Margaret said she would check the regulations and this would be discussed at the next committee meeting. 

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

I continue to update the website as appropriate.  I have now learned how to update the gallery and regularly add new photos.  I am keeping copies of all the old photos in an Archive File. 

Our Facebook page is gradually being seen by more people.  It seems to have more ‘hits’ when we post photos .  If you haven’t yet looked at the Facebook page, please do and remember to ‘like’ it.  I add details of all of our walks and occasionally receive comments from visitors to the page.  I have started to add some interesting facts about the start point or somewhere on the route and this seems to be quite successful in that more people are reading the post.  The original aim of the Facebook page was to attract more members, especially younger people, but so far I don’t think that this has been the case. 

Over the past few months I have been told by some members that they do not wish to have their photograph on the website or on any social media.  We discussed this at a recent committee meeting and decided that the best way forward is for the Walk Leader to remind people at the beginning of each walk that people may be taking photographs and if they don’t want to be on any photographs to let the leader know.  The other side of this is that anyone taking a photograph should respect the wishes of their fellow walkers.  If we all do this, then there should be no problems. 

As well as our own Newark Ramblers website, it is worth looking at the Ramblers Association website too.  You will be able to find walks in other areas that you can join when, for example, on holiday.  There is also information about special events and initiatives such as PathWatch. 

If you are really keen, there is also a Nottinghamshire Area Ramblers website but to ask you to look at three websites and the Facebook page might be a step too far.  But, the main thing is that the information is all there for you to see – you just need to look!

James asked how many members actually look at the Newark website, the Area website or the National website.  He added that the Area website has been totally redesigned and includes a section on the ‘Secret Life of a Rambler’.  Janet Rix, a member of Newark Ramblers, is the latest subject. 

A discussion followed about the value of Facebook which was set up initially to encourage new, younger members.  Anny said that young people have moved on to other social media, eg Snapshot.  James said that people like to walk with people of their own age and young people may not be interested in joining Newark Ramblers.  Some groups have sub-groups for different ages.  Maggie asked if it really mattered that we increase our membership numbers and James replied that it did for the organisation as a whole but as long as we continue to get new members as and when their commitments allow, we will be sustainable.  He added that it is the Ramblers Association who should be focusing on recruitment.  Ann said that universities have Ramblers groups which cater for the younger age group.  James added that, as the national organisation that supports walkers and paths, anyone who walks on a public footpath ought to be a member of the Ramblers Association.   

8)            Footpath Secretary’s Report (James McGill)

I continue to be active in footpath work at both Group and Area level.

There is not a lot to report.  The parish warden scheme continues but with a lower level of prompting to wardens from myself.  In general I have reported far fewer problems this year, allowing the County Council to “bed in” the new VIA system and not to overload them with problems.  I have the impression that other footpath workers have adopted a similar attitude. 

Keith Wallace was on the point of exploring with the County Council how best we could work with them and I am yet to discuss with my fellow District Coordinators how best we can carry this forward.

A limited Ploughing and Cropping Survey has been organised this Autumn by the County Council and I will be surveying the parishes of Maplebeck and South Collingham.

James asked if anyone would be interested in taking on the role of Footpaths Officer.  He said that the southern relief road currently being constructed will affect several Rights of Way, also that the Whitehouse Lane level crossing at the end of Hatchetts Lane is closed and where it was once possible to walk through Hoval Farrars this is now barricaded off and it is not possible to cross the river at the Winthorpe end.  Central Office is involved in looking into these closures. 

9)            Walk Co-ordinators’ Report (Jenny Williams and Ken Martin)

We would like to thank everyone who comes forward to lead our walks.  We  are now preparing the programme for the period January to March 2017.  We have had a number of offers for walks but still need more to fill the programme, especially on Sundays which are not so popular with regular walkers. 

10)          Area Representative’s Report (James McGill)

2016 started well with the appointment of a new Chair, Keith Wallace, who introduced several new initiatives including Members’ Days, meetings with the County Council at executive level and a plan to host the Ramblers General Council meeting in 2019.

This was all thrown into sudden and unpredicted disarray by his abrupt resignation as Area Chair on October 13th following a dispute with Central Office over complaint-handling procedures.  This bad news was followed five days later by an announcement from Rod and Jenny Fillingham that they would not be standing next year as Vice-chair and Secretary respectively.  The reason for this is that Rod suffered a heart attack in late summer (from which, gladly, he made an excellent recovery) but their wealth of experience after long years of service will be very much missed.

Another resignation involving Area Council next February will be mine – I do not wish to continue as Groups Officer but have offered to stay on “without portfolio” and will possibly look into improving recruitment and retention.

So, it’s all change and an uncertain future for Area Council.  There are potential developments of great interest but it looks like there will be a shortage of people to put them into effect!  The functioning of Newark Ramblers, however, should be unaffected by changes at Area level. 

James asked if someone would be interested in taking over as Area Representative.  No-one offered to do this job.  James said that Keith Wallace is carrying on as Secretary of the Mansfield group. 

11)          Membership Secretary’s Report (Ann Raymond)

We currently have 127 members with 13 new members over the year.  Among the leavers, some have moved, some have not rejoined and there was one death.  I contact members who do not renew their subscription but often do not hear back so there is no indication of why they have not rejoined. 

Following a discussion, it was agreed  that we do need to try and find out why people leave so that we can better manage retention and that we should ask specific questions.  This will be discussed at the next committee meeting. 

12)          Map Secretary’s Report (Judy Price)

During the year two maps were borrowed, one is still out.  There is a list of maps but I cannot guarantee that they are all up to date. 

It was suggested that we could buy new maps with our surplus money but it was generally agreed that they would be rarely used. 

It was suggested that we could add the list of maps available to our website with a note of who to contact to borrow them before we make any decisions on buying new maps.  Maggie suggested that we buy a GPS system that could be borrowed for accurate measurement of walks.  Judy was asked to look into the cost and report to the committee.

13)          Election of Officers

All current officers were willing to stand again. 

 

Proposed

Seconded

New postholder

Chair

Carol Wilkinson

Jenny Williams

James McGill

Secretary

Marie Legg

Judy Price

Carol Wilkinson

Treasurer

Maggie Stone

Ida Mills

Margaret Shaw

Membership Secretary

Annie Sergeant

Ken Martin

Ann Raymond

Website Secretary

Marie Legg

Judy Price

Carol Wilkinson

Walks Co-ordinators

Jean Everington

Carol Bristow

Jenny Williams

Ken Martin

Area Representative

Jean Everington

Judy Price

James McGill

Social Secretary

This post will be shared between all committee members

Footpaths Officer

Jenny Williams

Judy Price

James McGill

Map Secretary

Ida Mills

Maggie Stone

Judy Price

Committee member

Margaret Shaw

Judy Price

Marie Legg

 

14)          Any Other Business

Carol mentioned the availability of sweatshirts with Newark Ramblers written on the front. 

The question of parking was raised as there are now up to 20 cars at Wednesday walks.  It was agreed that where a church or pub carpark is being used, it is courteous to ring to ask permission and in the case of a church, to make sure there is not a funeral or wedding planned.  It is important that members park thoughtfully if parking at the side of a road.  Gordon said it is the responsibility of drivers to ensure that they park sensibly; it is not the responsibility of the walk leader.  Annie said she had talked to villages in Kneeton and this had ensured a good relationship.  Jenny had phoned the church warden at Lowdham and this had worked well. 

It was agreed that there could be more car sharing.  People who live in Southwell already have a good system of car sharing.  Some years ago everyone met at London Road car park but this is not appropriate now as we have members from a widre area.  It was agreed that we need a Code of Practice and Jenny agreed to draft one for the committee to look at. 

There being no further business, the meeting was closed.

15)          Date and Place of Next Annual General Meeting

Sunday 5 November 2017 at Chesters, Main Street, Balderton