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Minutes AGM 2018

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Minutes of the Newark Ramblers Annual General Meeting held on Wednesday 7 November 2018 at Elston Village Hall at 12.30pm.

Present:

Gerald Birkett, Heather Boreham, Ann Bumpsteed, Roy Bumpsteed, Carol Bristow, Sandra Carr, Colin Chalmers, Anne-Marie Dempsey, Gordon Douglas, Pauline Hall, Debra Hill, Phil Hornsby, Marie Legg, Neil Macfarlane, Ken Martin, James McGill, Joyce Pedersen, Judy Price, Mike Price, Ann Raymond, Charles Raymond, Ann Robinson, Peter Robinson, Anne Sears, Peter Sergeant, Margaret Shaw, Christine Smith, Maggie Stone, Andrea Swanwick, Steve Swanwick, Isobel Turner, Carol Wilkinson, Jenny Williams

Carol welcomed everyone to the meeting and suggested that, as no Chair had been in office for the last year, the meeting should begin with the election of a new Chair. Nominations were received for Joyce Pedersen and as Joyce was willing to stand as Chair, this was unanimously accepted. Having been elected Joyce chaired the meeting.

1)             Apologies for Absence

Brian Aldrich, Christine Aldrich, Jean Everington, Chris Grant, Martin Hall, Anny Jones, Rita Rippin, Janet Rix, Beryl Walker

2)             Minutes of the previous meeting

The Minutes of the Annual General Meeting held on 5 November 2017, having been previously circulated, were agreed to be a true record of that meeting.

3)             Matters Arising

Pauline Hall raised the question of a Library of Walks on the website. James said that there is a problem with copyright which makes it difficult. He added that the Vale of Belvoir group has excellent walks with photographs on their website so must have found a way round the copyright issue. Carol said that Ramblers Association is talking about adding more walks to the main website.

4)             Chairman’s Report

As there had been no Chair in office, there was no report.

5)             Secretary’s Report including Social Events                                    

This has been my fifth year as Secretary of Newark Ramblers. I really can’t believe it’s that long. I have really enjoyed being a member of Newark Ramblers and working with such a dedicated committee to ensure that we provide a good programme of walks and a varied programme of social events. My thanks go to each and every one of them for all the work they have done throughout the year.

Sadly, shortly after our AGM last year, Jean Quickenden was killed in a road accident. Jean walked regularly on Wednesdays and up until 2016 was still doing the longer walks. Many members attended the funeral which showed how much Jean was loved and respected by us all.

Two committee members are stepping down this year.

Marie Legg. What can we say – she’s been part of Newark Ramblers for ever! I believe it was Marie who first started organising the Wednesday walks over 20 years ago. Before that walks were on different days each week.   As well as the regular Wednesday walks she organised some longer ones: Southwell Minster to Lincoln cathedral – twice! Walking both sides of the Trent and doing 7 or 8 miles each week and organising cars to be at the beginning and the end of the walk – quite an achievement. The Leicestershire Loop, the Gingerbread Way, the Teapot Walk and many more.  

Marie has been a member of Ramblers since 16 March 1994 and on the committee for most of that time. She has served as Social Secretary and as Walks Co-ordinator and has been a valued member of the committee coming up with lots of innovative ideas. More recently she and I organised a residential trip to Cober Hill which was enjoyed by all who took part. Marie, we all wish you well in your ‘committee free’ life. We hope that you will still join us on as many walks as you can. And, we hope that you will be very happy in your new home.  

Jenny Williams has been a member of Ramblers since 8 January 1991 and joined the committee in 2013. She has served as Walk Programme Co-ordinator with Ken for most of that time. Jenny has been a valued committee member, frequently representing us at Civic Events. Whilst she has been Walk Programme Co-ordinator with Ken we have introduced shorter walks and ambles to start at the same point as the longer walk. This has entailed finding more leaders at which Jenny has been excellent, very often leading the walks herself. Jenny not only walks with Newark Ramblers but managed to walk the last part of the pilgrim route to Santiago de Compostela. Following ill health which resulted in a heart operation, Jenny was out of action for a while. However, as soon as she was able Jenny started walking again, very short distances at first, gradually building up so that she can now walk along with the rest of the group. It’s hard to believe that Jenny had a very special birthday this year; she looks fantastic.

Please show your appreciation for these two lovely ladies who have contributed so much to our group.

I recently had a look at the Secretary’s Job Description. It is the Secretary’s job to deal with correspondence, prepare agendas, attend meetings, take the minutes, write them up and distribute them to other committee members. The Secretary is also required to arrange the AGM and make relevant information available to members, ensure that actions agreed at meetings are progressed, communicate regularly with other group officers, send out hard copies or electronic copies of walks programmes to members, submit reports to Area as and when requested, provide new committee members with a copy of the Constitution and a Job Description.

I hold my hands up, I have not given a copy of the Constitution to new committee members nor have I given them a Job Description. I have though, I think, carried out all of the other tasks. It takes time, commitment and a belief in the aims of the Ramblers Association to do this. I do it willingly, I enjoy it and I’m happy to carry on for ONE MORE YEAR. After that, I think it is time for a change. It’s never good for any organisation to rely on one person to carry on with the same job. We should always be thinking about the future and ensuring that we have a succession plan in place.

There are going to be some big changes in the coming year particularly for the Membership Secretary and myself. Training is being offered to the Membership Secretary on the new Dashboard, a database which shows how many members we have and their personal details. I attended a Ramblers Roadshow recently when the new system was shown to us. Central Office is very concerned about Data Protection and intend to limit the availability of members’ personal information to Membership Secretaries. This means that when we have to go through the Dashboard, as they intend, to send out emails to members I will not have access to email addresses. Unless Membership Secretaries are prepared to send out all the information required by members, group secretaries will need to have access to email addresses. I pointed this out to the representatives from Central Office and they said they would give my comment due consideration.

Ann does a great job as Membership Secretary and because of the contact she makes with new members and members who have left the group, we have a better understanding of why people join us and why they leave. I have to say that most people leave because they are moving area or they are no longer able to walk with us. I don’t know of anyone who has left the group because they found us unfriendly. In fact, visitors to the group say that we are extremely friendly and make them very welcome.

Sometimes, I feel that the Treasurer doesn’t get enough recognition for the important role they play in the group. So long as our expenses are paid and the books balance, we are happy but Margaret has to work hard to make sure that this is the case and she also has to send in returns to Area and Central Offices, set an annual budget, make sure the accounts are audited etc. Thank you Margaret for all the work you do.

It’s very important that members of Newark Ramblers are kept informed of what is happening, changes to the programme or information about a forthcoming walk. Unfortunately the new General Data Protection Regulation means that any member of Newark Ramblers who has not registered on the main Ramblers website to receive emailed information, cannot receive information from Newark Ramblers. This is such a shame as email communication is quick, easy and cheap. We can get urgent information out to people immediately and prevent, for example, wasted journeys. Members who do not use email at all usually have a friend who keeps them informed of this type of message. The system works well so I would urge anyone who has not registered to receive emails from us to do so. After the end of this year I will no longer be able to send messages to you if you are not registered.

Another way in which we keep Members informed is through our Facebook page. Information about the next walk is added, sometimes with a photo of the village we are starting from or historic information about a church etc. We also say ‘thank you’ to our walk leaders through the Facebook page. It is very important that walk leaders are recognised for the part they play in our organisation; without them we would not have a Walks Programme. They do a great job in finding new and interesting walks, renewing our interest in tried and tested walks and arranging some walks that are further away or accessed by public transport, eg Train Walks, Linear Walks using the local bus.

Throughout the year we have received invitations to send a representative of Newark Ramblers to Civic Events in the town. This year we have been represented by Jenny, Gordon, Anne-Marie and Joyce. I would like to thank them for giving up their time to attend these events and for promoting Newark Ramblers.

Thank you Ken and Jenny. You have done a great job this year in putting together the Walks Programme. I know you sometimes feel as if you are always ‘nagging’ people to offer a walk but I like to see it as ‘encouraging’ people to think about how they can contribute to our group. It works! We always have a great programme of walks, so thank you to everyone who has led or is going to lead a walk for us. It is so important that we try and accommodate the needs of all of our walkers; some people want short walks, some people want long walks, some people want slower walks and others want what I would describe as ‘interest’ walks, ie visiting a church or other historic place, food at the end of the walk etc. Newark Ramblers is very fortunate. We have people who will lead all of those types of walk. Personally, I feel it is really important that we look after our long-standing members who can no longer run up a fell or jump over a stile. They still want to get out and about, to meet people, to get some exercise and feel as much part of the group as they did in the days when they were more actively engaged in leading walks or being part of the committee. So thank you to Beryl, Peter, Marie and others who keep that part of Newark Ramblers going so well.

I am also pleased to report that a few of our newer members have become walk leaders. If you haven’t led a walk before, please talk to us. We can help with choosing a walk, doing a recce and giving advice on the day. In the future there will be more walks on the Ramblers Association website which will give details of a suggested route. But in the meantime, we can help. Don’t be shy!

As you know, James stepped down last year as Chair but has continued to be our Area Representative. Not only is James our representative but he is now Chair of Notts Area Ramblers. Congratulations James, our loss is their gain.

Jean Everington is unable to be here today but following last year’s AGM she was appointed Footpath Officer. James has helped Jean with this role and she has offered to stand for re-election to this post.

You may not know that we have a very efficient Map Secretary. Judy took on this role some years ago and has a number of maps and books that members can borrow. Judy would be the first to admit that this is not a very busy job – hardly any maps have been borrowed.  

The two newest members of our committee, Anne-Marie and Joyce, have settled in very well. In the absence of a Chair they have taken their turn along with everyone else. I was unable to attend the August committee meeting and Joyce offered to take the Minutes. Thank you both for the work you have done throughout the year.

Freda Kirby was a valued member of Newark Ramblers for many years. After her death her family gave a sum of money to Newark Ramblers and there has been much discussion at committee about how this should be spent. Eventually it was agreed that we should purchase a tree in her memory and have it planted in the Community Orchard at Southwell. I contacted Southwell Council who asked me to wait until this year’s planting season, ie December 2018. They sent me a list of trees they recommend together with the name of a tree nursery they use. I contacted Marc Richmond and we discussed the merits of various trees. In the end we settled on a Kidd’s Orange Red apple tree which will grow to around 8’. Marc has offered to bring the tree and plant it for us and at the same time prune the head of branches. I am still waiting to hear from Southwell Council about the exact planting location and then I can contact Marc re a date. I would like to suggest that we plant the tree one Wednesday in January and put on a Southwell walk so that we can all attend the planting. I am sure this will be a lasting memorial to Freda.    

Newark Ramblers was represented at the Christmas Tree Festival in Newark Parish Church. The tree looked lovely and our thanks go to everyone who helped with decorating etc. As a committee we have decided to take part in this Festival again this year. We need a theme for the decoration so if anyone has any ideas, please let us know.

Throughout the year we have enjoyed various social events.

In February 20 people attended the Palace Theatre to watch the ballet, ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ and in March 23 people were entertained by the Newark Amateur Operatic Society to the musical, ‘Cats’. We thank Beryl for booking the tickets and organising these events. She has already booked tickets for 26 people for the Newark Amateur Operatic Society show next year which is ‘Oklahoma’.

In December a few members attended the Robin Hood Theatre to see ‘A Christmas Carol’ and in January ‘God of Carnage.

In August 42 people went on a coach trip to Sandringham. About 8 people walked the last 7 miles into Sandringham. We visited the house, gardens and church and all had a wonderful day.

In September 18 walkers met at Market Rasen for a 9 mile walk. 16 people travelled by train and 2 arrived by car. We had a wonderful walk through Willingham Woods, up to the top of the Wolds, down into Tealby and back through the woods. We stopped for lunch at Tealby village shop which is run by the community. The lady in the shop was so kind, she gave us the key for the toilets and said that we could use the tables and benches outside the shop. We also picked up lots of Walk leaflets and I shall be leading one of them from Fulletby very soon. At the end of the walk we enjoyed our return rail journey and vowed to do another Train Walk very soon.

A ceilidh was held at Norwell Village Hall in October. 44 people attended and everyone had a really good time. I would like to thank everyone who helped to make the evening a success.

We held our Christmas meal at The Tawny Owl. Our thanks go to Jenny Mees for organising the event and I am pleased to report that she is organising another meal at The Tawny Owl this Christmas.

Our next social event will be a Murder Mystery evening at Southwell Library on 14 December. Tickets are still available.

Social events form an important part of our organisation. They give members an opportunity to get to know one another better and in a different environment, they are vital for members who are no longer able to take part in walks and they often involve food, a real incentive to attend! We are always keen to have ideas for social events, outings, group holidays etc. Please let us know what you would like and we’ll do our best to make it happen.

We have also been fortunate to be offered a First Aid Course by Notts Area Ramblers. This has been arranged for Tuesday 13 November at Barnby Road Academy. One of our members has already attended one of the other First Aid courses arranged by Area and has told me how good it was so I have high hopes for our own course.

As many of you know, Ramblers Association put on Roadshows throughout the country where members can attend various workshops to learn new skills. Anne-Marie, Joyce and Ann Robinson attended a Roadshow at Oxford and I attended a Roadshow at Lincoln. This is a good opportunity to meet staff from Central Office and to talk to members of other Rambler groups and find out what sort of walks they are offering etc.

To conclude, I would just like to say how proud I am to be a member of Newark Ramblers and you should be too. We are a thriving group. Between 20 and 30 people regularly walk on Wednesdays and we are increasing our numbers on some weekend walks. I looked carefully at the Area Membership Report. We were 2nd in the table for new and re-instated members between July and September and we are the 7th largest group in the Area. We are doing well but we mustn’t be complacent. Between us we can make this great group even better. I say, ‘Let’s do it!’

6)             Treasurer’s Report

At the Ramblers year end which is 30 September our group had funds totalling £670.47. At the beginning of the year we had £797.59 which means we have spent £127.12 more than we received during the year. This is mainly because there has not been so much profit on social events. Expenditure has been similar to last year. Income from Central Office has remained similar to last year but there has been no income from Ramblers Holidays. I would like to remind you that if you are booking a holiday with them to mention that you are a member of Newark Group and we will receive a donation between £10 and £30. I would also like to remind you that walk leaders can claim mileage expenses for a recce for walks. This is 28p per mile and I have some claim forms with me or the form is available on the website. Roger Spencer has agreed to examine our accounts again next year.

Phil Hornsby asked if we actually need money at group level. He asked if we have to publicise our walks as RA members are able to walk with any Ramblers group nationwide. He said that this is not possible with groups who are not linked to the RA website. It was explained that we need a certain amount of money to pay travelling expenses and other expenses incurred in the running of the group. Ramblers groups who use the RA website as their provider automatically have their walks listed nationwide.

 7)             Web Co-ordinator’s Report

During the year I have kept the website up to date, adding walks and social events as appropriate. We do have quite a few enquiries made through the webmail which I deal with so it does show that people other than ourselves are looking at our website.

I haven’t added many photos to the website this year. People generally don’t want to be on photos so most of the photos I have added are of views or interesting buildings etc we have come across on our walks.

Our Facebook page is well-used by our own members as well as by visitors to the site. As I have said before, I don’t really do Facebook so I haven’t encouraged people to be my ‘friends’. It might be a good idea if someone else took on this role and pushed our social media presence.

8)             Footpath Secretary’s Report

James McGill: I stepped aside halfway through the year to make way for Jean Everington. This does not indicate any failing interest on my part as I continue as the Area ROW Chair and also Coordinator for Newark and Sherwood District but I am keen to get more people involved in footpath work.

Jean Everington: Sorry I am not able to be with you today but I am willing to continue in this post, if elected. I’ve only checked three paths. One was where someone couldn’t find the path but I went and it was there. The other two were fallen signs. I know one has been re-instated but not sure about the other.

Since Jean submitted this report there have been two reports of broken stiles. Photos were taken and sent to her and she has reported these to the relevant people.

9)             Walk Co-ordinators’ Report

Ken reported that over the year there had been a walk every Wednesday but not many walks at the weekend. He thanked everyone for leading walks and said that he is now preparing the programme for January to March 2019 and looks forward to people offering a walk.

A question was raised about why missing Finger Posts are not replaced quickly. James explained that this is because it is not financially viable to go out to replace individual finger posts etc. The council waits until there are a few jobs to do.

10)           Area Report

Another difficult year at Area level – I should know as I was appointed Chair at the February AGM!

GDPR has proved a major challenge, not helped by what I perceive as an unnecessarily prescriptive and rigid approach from Central Office. I expressed my misgivings in a letter to Vanessa Griffiths (CEO), a person for whom I have great respect. Vanessa replied that she saw GDPR as an opportunity rather than a crisis and that it has led to a completely new approach as to how the organisation handles membership data.

We have also had problems with financial management due to the resignation mid-year of our Treasurer, Jack Prust, on the grounds of serious ill-health. Again, the crisis has led to the opportunity of reappraising our financial systems and we are fortunate that two members of Rushcliffe Group (a retired accountant and a retired bank manager) have taken on the duties of Treasurer up to and including the February AGM.

It’s not all doom and gloom! I commend the new Area website to you and our excellent newsletter, Notts Walker, continues to be released electronically twice a year.

Our quarterly Area Council meetings have been revamped and are now better attended. We try and get through the routine business quickly and devote the second half to a topic of general interest – for instance, our last meeting featured a presentation on footpath problems while the January meeting will focus on putting a Walk Programme together. If anybody would like to attend Area Council as an observer please let me know.

James also said that he would encourage members to attend the Area AGM which will take place on the first Sunday in February at Linby Village Hall. Further details are available on the Area website.

11)           Membership Secretary’s Report

We currently have 125 fully paid-up members. During the year 25 new members joined the group.

Unfortunately over the last 12 months a number of members transferred to other groups or have resigned from the Ramblers or have allowed their membership to lapse and this has resulted in a net decrease for the period of 3.

I continue to contact people, as and when appropriate, to try to ascertain why they have not renewed their membership, however, generally those who have left the group are either quite elderly now or have rarely, if ever, walked with the group.

Ann added that because of General Data Protection Regulations she is only permitted to send one reminder to members.

12)           Map Secretary’s Report

Judy said that no maps had been borrowed but that she had brought maps and walk leaflets with her so that members could have a look at what is available. Members who wish to borrow maps or leaflets during the year are asked to contact Judy.

13)           Election of Officers

Position

Postholder

Proposed

Seconded

Chair

Joyce Pedersen

Marie Legg

Jenny Williams

Deputy Chair

Anne-Marie Dempsey

Joyce Pedersen

James McGill

Secretary

Carol Wilkinson

Judy Price

Jenny Williams

Treasurer

Margaret Shaw

Carol Bristow

Ann Robinson

Membership Secretary

Ann Raymond

Anne-Marie Dempsey

Margaret Shaw

Website Secretary

Carol Wilkinson

Joyce Pedersen

Judy Price

Walks Co-ordinators

Ken Martin

Anne-Marie Dempsey

Joyce Pedersen

Ann Bumpsteed

Area Representative

James McGill

Philip Hornsby

Carol Bristow

Social Secretary

VACANT

 

 

Footpath Officer

Jean Everington

Carol Wilkinson

Joyce Pedersen

Map Secretary

Judy Price

Carol Wilkinson

Maggie Stone

 

14)           Any Other Business

Carol Bristow gave a vote of thanks to the committee which, she said, has done a good job.

It was suggested by several members that we should always give a mobile phone contact number for walks. Carol explained that Walk Leaders now have to fill in a form which asks them how they would like their contact details to appear on Walks Programmes and online. Under the General Data Protection Regulations we are only permitted to publish the information the leader gives. However, it is extremely useful to have a mobile number and walk leaders are encouraged to provide one where possible.

Phil Hornsby commented on the use of mobile phones which he said had been used in other groups to delay the start of walks. It was generally agreed that this does not happen at Newark Ramblers but that we would make a mental note of it.

Maggie Stone said that she still has the signposts she made if we would like them for this year’s Christmas Tree.

15)           Date and place of next Annual General Meeting

6 November 2019 – venue to be decided by committee

 

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