Thirty years ago, in 1984, I joined the Ramblers having been captivated by the landscape of the whole area – from Peak to Plain – as soon as we moved to Cheshire. Driving up to Teggs Nose for the first time I knew that I had to explore all that lay before me – and the East Cheshires provided the guides, mines of information and enthusiasm, stimulating days out and, particularly their companionship. Saturday walks and, come the summer, Thursday evening walks as a mid-week bonus, became a highly valued source of exercise, fresh air and general rejuvenation after work. Taking the family and our walking boots to the Jura mountains, the signposts proclaimed, “Le pays qui respire” and I thought, “The countryside which (lets you) breathe” – that is just what the East Cheshire Walks allow us all to do. And then I was introduced to Weekends Away, Coach Trips, Newsletters, Hoe Downs, Christmas Lunches and a great deal more all through our amazing fellowship and volunteers.
So, having benefited so much, it is more than time for me to try to give something back to the Group. I want to thank the many members who have encouraged me to join the Committee again ( I did so for a couple of years in the late 1990’s) this time as Chairman and especially my proposer, Ian Mabon. Also my predecessor, David Gylee, has provided generous support in the handover – one-to-one advice, a welcome party at his house for the new boy and the capable and well functioning Committee, all of whom I am relieved and grateful to know are staying in post; and he will be with me at the Area AGM on 21st November. And this mention of the Cheshire East Area brings me straight to business and “A New Vision for The Ramblers” published by Central Office in October and available on The Ramblers website.
This presages the most radical change since the 1970’s in the structure of The Ramblers’ organisation at National, Area and Group level and the respective roles of each. In brief summary, “The Vision” seeks to strengthen The Ramblers ability to deliver its Mission and Objectives by enhancing the role of the Area level working closely with, and reporting directly to the Chief Executive, Benedict Southworth. It is proposed that the Areas will have responsibility for, and oversight of, the Groups and their activities, allocating funds for the delivery of the objectives.
So my thought that joining the Committee would be a matter of “a touch on the tiller and steady as she goes” seems to be short-lived indeed. Therefore, please do read “The Vision” and Objectives statement and comment through the Survey document. Of course, I would like to hear your views personally by telephone, during a walk or by email. And I think that I do recall that, back in 1984, this debate had just come to a conclusion so any member with insights into that round of organisational discussion please get in touch.
Therefore my first Agenda item is likely to be a long running one – I look forward to working with the Committee on it and to keeping you informed.