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Newark Ramblers

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Minutes of the Newark Ramblers A.G.M

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Sunday 3rd November 2013 in South Muskham Village Hall at 10.30am

Dallas Flint, Tony Colton, Sue Lovell, Sonja Daniels, Ida Mills, Peter Scorer, Vivien Scorer, Jill Findlay, Susie and John Grainger, Dilys Carby
Gordon Douglas, Rodney Bayes, Phil Bristow, Morwenna Woods, Dinah and Ron Pickersgill, Maureen Reeves, Brian and Christine Aldrich, Janet Rix, Rita Rippin

Present at the meeting
Alison & John Page, Val Swain, Jenny Mees, Chris Grant, Ken Martin, Gill Collinson,
Joan Hallam, Jean Quickenden, Carol Bristow, Neil Macfarlane, Jacob Florijn, Mike Price, Judy Price, Marie Legg, Carol Wilkinson, Jean Everington, Jenny Williams, Beryl Walker, Margaret Shaw, James McGill, Pauline Hall, James Costello (visitor) Phil Hornsby,(visitor)

The Chairman, James McGill opened the meeting by welcoming everybody and inviting all members to join him for a short walk by the river after the meeting and the opportunity to eat at the Muskham Ferry pub after that.

The minutes of the 2012 meeting were taken as read and passed unanimously with one change; Marie Legg was present at the 2012 AGM, contrary to the secretary's report.

Most of the reports read out at the meeting were emailed to the secretary who is reprinting them here with minimal changes.

Chairman's report (James)
This has been an interesting year with details to be revealed in the various reports.
Highlights included a successful Get Walking Week (with 79 participants in the walk around Sconce Hills) and the establishment of a new website linked to the national template – many thanks to Dallas Flint for her energy and talent in setting this up.
Recruitment in its various guises continues to cause problems. You will hear later in the meeting about difficulties in finding walks leaders.
We have had a couple of committee resignations during the year, Chris Wain and John Grainger – we owe them our thanks for respectively keeping membership statistics up to date and for introducing the longer walks on Wednesdays.
Morwenna Woods and Pauline Hall are not standing for re-election. They have done very valuable work over the past two years with Pauline succeeding Morwenna as secretary and, again, we are in their debt.
A special thank-you goes to Beryl Walker who is also retiring from the committee as a youthful 80-year old. She has given many years of service to Ramblers, ever-reliable and ever-industrious.

(At this point James gave Beryl a plant on behalf of the group and a thank you card was circulated for everyone to sign.)

Thanks also to Judy Price, Margaret Shaw and Jean Everington for their contributions and loyalty. And a special thank you to the person who more than anyone helps to keep Newark Ramblers functioning, the hive of industry called Marie Legg, who works tirelessly behind the scenes organising walks, distributing information, putting programmes together, organising social activities, cajoling people to stand for the committee.
My plans for next year include continuing work already in progress in expanding the website and rolling out the footpath warden scheme. I think we probably ought to participate in Get Walking Week again next year and I would be interested in following this up a month or so later with a programme of longer walks in a Get Hiking Week. I would be very glad to hear from anyone who would like to help me with these projects.

Secretary's report (Pauline)
This has been an exciting year with some new activities and ideas in the Newark Group.
A new and very successful website has been set up mainly due to the hard work of Dallas Flint. The Footpath Warden Scheme is now up and running and Get Walking Week was well attended. Longer walks on the last Wednesday of each month have been set up and the group has helped to publicise the ramblers at local shows.

On a sad note we have to report that two of our longest standing members, Des Whicher and Sandie Vorbeck died this year after long illnesses. They will be much missed.
However we are pleased to announce the marriage of two of our members, Dave and Viv who now live in the south-west nearer to their families. We wish them every happiness.

This morning we have a large selection of books on display donated to us by Joan Whicher. She would like any money raised from the sale of these books to go to Beaumond House.
(Pauline then read the letter from Mrs Whicher).
If you would like a book please leave your donation in the box provided.
I would like to thank Marie for emailing out many sets of AGM minutes which has saved a great deal in paperwork and postage.
I would like to thank Beryl for all her help over this past year and wish to assure the new secretary that I will do all I can to assist her in turn.

Treasurer's report (Margaret)
(for the detailed accounts please see the website)
At the year end we had funds totalling £603.17, which means we had a deficit of £80.37. This was a deliberate policy to reduce our funds and hopefully will continue next year.

The income from Area was down from £325 to £207 but receipts from Ramblers Holidays were £100 which we didn't have last year.

We had extra expenditure on Get Walking Week and the Web Design course. Room hire and mileage were both higher than last year.

The income from Area should be about the same again in the current year as we are only allowed the basic allowance per member because our funds are too high.

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

Web Co-ordinator's report
Read out by Pauline in the absence of Dallas.
The year has been educational. This is my first foray into web page design.
Now we have a brand new look, mirroring the format of other Ramblers group's pages.
Thank you all for people who have supplied the page content, be it reports or photographs as it seems to be paying off. So far this year we have had in excess of 4500 hits on the information supplied. (This figure does not include the walks schedule)
The Walks finder page, which is linked in with all the Ramblers' branches, I am informed, is also bearing fruit as a number of new faces have been seen on walks, be they trying out the group or visiting from other areas looking for a change of scenery.
If you haven't taken the opportunity to visit the site yet, please do. Feedback is most welcome and any ideas for new content would be appreciated.

Find us at: www.newarkramblers.org.uk

Social secretary's report (Marie)
I have tried to arrange a social event for every month this year, some of which have been well supported, others not quite so well.
The year started with the well-attended Christmas Fuddle, a good walk followed by lots of good food provided by the Committee.
Other events have been a quiz evening, walk and lunch at The Fox, Twilight at the Workhouse, a ghost walk around Newark and a coach trip to York.
Theatre visit have been as popular as ever and thanks to Beryl & Jenny, we have supported Newark Amateur Operatic's production of 'Annie' and the Robin Hood Theatre company on its tour round the villages. We have made two visits to the ballet during the year to watch 'A Midsummer Night's Dream' and the year ended on a high note on Thursday evening with a visit to 'Swan Lake' performed by the Moscow State Ballet at the Palace Theatre in Newark.
A wonderful evening to round off the year!

Footpath Secretary's report (James)
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. There are longstanding problems in Fernwood, Laxton and North Muskham which will require attention over the course of the coming year.
I have started the parish warden scheme on a pilot basis in Newark and Sherwood. Having fruitlessly waited three years for definitive parish maps from the County Council I have organised my own scheme whereby I provide wardens with a list from the Council's non-definitive map – available on their website - of the numbered paths in individual parishes. This is accompanied by a brief description of the path so that the warden can identify it on the OS Explorer map. This is all very time-consuming but I now have 24 parishes covered with a further 4 potential wardens waiting for their paperwork.
I have also attended two recent updates on Rights of Way law. The first was a whole-day event at Wrexham, organised by Central Office and the second was an evening event at Ollerton organised by Chris Thompson, our Area Footpath Secretary. Both sessions were led by Janet Davis from Central Office and were interesting and informative.

James was asked how many parishes needed to be covered. He replied there were about 70.
There was a query as to the result of reporting footpath problems. Both James and Pauline said that swift improvements were being made especially if it involved safety, e.g. a bridge or a stile.
The bridge at Lowdham is still out of commission.
There is a footpath closed in the Laxton/Capthorne area.

Ramblers are trying to work closely with the Rights of Way Team at Notts CC and James has collaborated successfully on a number of issues with Stephen Tipping, the responsible officer for the Newark and Sherwood locality

Walks co-ordinator report (Marie)
The Wednesday walks are still as popular as ever and very well attended.
At times there are more than twenty walkers and we have had several new members joining the Ramblers as a result of these walks.

We have just started put on a longer walk on the last Wednesday of the month too.

Thanks go to Jenny and Beryl for helping me to find leaders for the Sunday walks. Unfortunately they are not so well attended and we are finding it increasingly difficult to persuade leaders to come forward and, obviously, it's - no leader – no walk! So please could I appeal to some of you today to fill in a few of the spaces on next year's programme.

This is the tenth year that I have put the programme together and I feel that it is time to hand over to someone else at the AGM next year. So I hope someone will come forward and I will be very happy to give them any help needed.

Jenny Mees said that she organised one long walk per month on the first Sunday in the month. There is a problem in that sometimes nobody turns up and the leader has made a fruitless journey to the start of the walk. Beryl agreed that at least once this had happened to her.
Jenny felt that mobile numbers of the leaders should be on the website and the programme with instructions for walkers to contact the leader if they intend walking.
James agreed he wanted leaders to be contactable but there had been objections to this. James said it needed more discussion at committee level.

A central point to meet was discussed, but it did not appear to be a viable option as people come from several different directions. This again James said needed to be discussed further by the committee.

Area report (James)
I have been sitting on the Area Council since the Nottinghamshire AGM as Groups Officer. This is a position that has been vacant for some years so there was no clear pattern to slip into but it turned out that David Hunt, the new chairman, shared my interest in finding out more about our membership so we decided to set up a system of joint visits to the groups. The initial impetus was volunteer recruitment but this has rapidly changed into a "pulse-taking" investigation into the health and functional status of Ramblers in Nottinghamshire.
We have now visited 10 of the 14 groups and have been very impressed by the warmth and interest shown towards us. There are some problems, however, related to the ageing demography of locality-based groups and I am hoping to draw all this together in an anonymised report for Area Council in early 2014.
David joined the Newark group for our most recent meeting in October. He is proving to be an energetic and capable chairman with extensive links to the local business and political communities as well as being involved with several charitable organisations.
We also have a new Area Treasurer, Jack Prust, a qualified accountant who is in process of streamlining financial procedures. Jack is planning to hold an educational session for group treasurers in the next few months.
At the time of the AGM, it looked as if Nottinghamshire Walker would disappear but the editor, Alex Staniforth, is publishing a one-off edition which will be appearing shortly.
Alex continues as Area Publicity Officer and arranged for Ramblers to man a publicity stall jointly with Notts CC at the Newark Show and the Moorgreen Show. We would like to improve our links with the County Council and are keen, for example, for them to accept Ramblers volunteers for work on footpath maintenance. The Council unfortunately pulled out at very short notice from the Southwell Ploughing Match owing to (we think) a shortage of funding and personnel. Those of us who have been involved in manning these stalls have found it a useful exercise and Area Council have decided that we will participate at these shows next year on a self-funded basis.

Membership secretary's report
Chris Wain stepped down from this position in August and Beryl took over in a temporary capacity.

At the AGM last year there were 129 members in Newark Group.
At the end of September 2013 we have 134 members.
During the year there were 28 new members, and 23 left the group, or lapsed membership.
Of the 28 new members, over 60% of them walk mainly with the Wednesday group.
Nearly half of our members are active, either walk regularly or take part in social events.

Map secretary's report
Judy said that we have had additional maps donated by Dave and Viv and from Derek Fielden. However very few people borrow them.
Pauline suggested that the maps could be brought to the walks so that people could see what was available.
Dallas has already made a list of the maps that Judy holds. There was a discussion about written walk plans that have come to light in the archives. It is thought that these primarily originate from the days of Geoff Rix. Jacob made a comment that it would be useful if these could be scanned and made available on the website. James agreed with this and said we needed to ask Dallas if this was feasible. (NOTE: This needs to be brought up at the next committee meeting.

Election of officers
Position Nominated Proposed Seconded
Chairman James McGill Val Swain Beryl Walker
Secretary Carol Wilkinson Marie Legg James McGill
Treasurer Margaret Shaw Val Swain Beryl Walker
Website secretary Dallas Flint Jean Everington Pauline Hall
Social secretary Marie Legg Jenny Mees Judy Price
Footpath secretary James McGill Pauline Hall Jenny Williams
Map secretary Judy Price Jenny Mees Marie Legg
Walks Co-ordinator Marie Legg Jenny Williams Judy Price
Membership sec. Jean Everington James McGill Margaret Shaw
Area representative James McGill Jean Everington Pauline Hall
Committee member Jenny Williams Jenny Mees Pauline Hall
Committee member Ken Martin Marie Legg Pauline Hall

Marie was concerned that the programme needs to go out at the Fuddle in the middle of December. She was worried because she did not have leaders for all the Sunday walks.

There was a brief discussion about the venue for the pub lunch in March. Some people were not happy with the Fox at Kelham.
There was also a brief discussion about the coach trip. It was agreed that we would like one and Birmingham was suggested as there is scope for canal walks and also for sight seeing in the city. It was suggested that the coach trip would probably go onto the next programme, thereby removing some of the pressure for specifying details for the upcoming programme.

James made the point that we needed to make more use of the website and if the upcoming paper programme had gaps these could be filled subsequently on the website.

Date and place of next A.G.M
1st Sunday in November.
Venue to be decided later.

The meeting finished at 11.30am.