After 3 years in the role as Chairman of East Cheshire Ramblers Group I am stepping down. It has been a busy, eventful, but nevertheless very rewarding period. I have been blessed with excellent help and support from the Committee and the Footpath Committee, as well as very many other volunteers.
The walks and the special events have been very memorable. As I heard from a member only last week, “This is the best Group to belong to”; I can certainly endorse that opinion.
It is the sign of a healthy organisation when personnel change and the organisation carries on as smoothly as before. I refer specifically to changes in the organisation during the past year; Sue Thersby taking on the role of Long (Week-end) Walk Co-ordinator, Roger Fielding taking on the role of Webmaster and Steve Hull taking on the role of Evening Walk Co-ordinator. So as I leave the role of Chairman, John Edwards will be taking over; an excellent choice who many of you will have known for many years. Even though I have had an interesting and very enjoyable time as Chairman I do personally believe after 3 years that you need someone new with fresh ideas and enthusiasm.
I do also believe that the Group has moved forward during my time as Chairman. I think especially of the excellent footpath project work, the new concessionary footpath, and recognising the necessity of moving onwards into this digital age.
During my second year as Chairman I discovered that the Group was formed in 1973 to ‘maintain and improve footpaths’. Our ethos was (and still is) about footpaths. My thanks on behalf of the Group go to all footpath inspectors as well as the projects undertaken by Brian Richardson and his merry band of volunteers.
All of our special and social events have been well supported, quite regularly events are “sold out” and a waiting list formed. Week-ends away have been vibrant and lively. The organisers (thank you Ann Thompson, Alan Catherall, Jane and Frank Gay) can be relied upon to choose a week-end with glorious sunny weather. Coach trips, organised by Brian Griffiths, have been varied and interesting; again well supported with a “large” coach needed on frequent occasions.
I would also like to remind members about our excellent publicity in the local Macclesfield and Wilmslow Express newspapers. Having been initiated by Roger Norton earlier this year, Walk Leaders have stepped forward and produced articles for the papers that are widely read and appreciated. I have been approached on more than one occasion by people who have noticed our name and are enthusiastic readers. No doubt one day they will come and join us. Helen Richardson is at the moment carrying on Roger’s good work while he is away in Australia. Without doubt this publicity has kept our name in the spotlight and has resulted in attracting new members to join our Group. Please do consider making a contribution if and when you can.
I am frequently impressed by the talents on offer to our Group. As well as the footpath project work mentioned earlier, we do have an excellent website, developed by Graham Beech and continued this year by Roger Fielding, with new ideas and features improving the speedy access to information for all. Then there is the lively and stimulating newsletter, painstakingly put together by Ralph Atherton, which will soon be replaced by a more up to date website facility.
If I have missed anyone out I do apologise. I know that we have a host of volunteers who perform an invaluable service to the Group. Thank you to one and all!
I will briefly mention Membership, which has seen a steady decline over the last 3 years, part of a trend for some time. While a significant part of the Membership is totally outside of our control, it is indeed gratifying to know that overall walking membership has increased slightly in that period. However, it must be recognised that the Group as a whole is aging. When I joined 9 years ago, the ‘core’ walking membership is still the same ‘core’ walking membership today. We must consider the future walking membership, and I would urge all to reflect and consider how we might attract a younger walking membership in order to keep the Group active and thriving in future years.