Stafford Rambling Group Affiliated to the Ramblers Stafford Rambling Group Produced with Xara -  Stafford Rambling Group 2014 -18
CHAIR’S REPORT 2017-18 This   report   covers   the   period   from   April   2017   to   March   2018.   Overall   I   believe   that   we   can   look   back   on   the   year   with   quiet satisfaction.   We   have   delivered   on   our   programme   objectives,   maintained   our   membership   and   are   financially   sound.   We have a lively web site overseen by John and a Facebook group which is (I think) even livelier. Our   regular   walks   programme   has   been   full   with   a   wide   range   of   leaders,   some   of   whom   led   their   first   walk.   I   have   to   thank all   of   these   because   the   programme   is   the   backbone   of   the   club.   I   will   however   single   out   one   for   special   praise.   Most people,   not   surprisingly,   prefer   to   lead   their   walks   in   better   weather.   Well   Jeanette   put   herself   down   for   three   –   two   short walks   and   one   long   –   in   December   and   January.   That   was   above   and   beyond   the   call   of   duty.   Last   winter   was   not   good;   we have   got   used   to   wet   winters   but   this   time   we   have   had   three   separate   periods   of   snow.      I   cannot   recall   such   disruption   to the   walks   programme   with   several   cancelled   and   some   relocated.   This   snow   lsted   virtually   until   the   end   of   the   year   covered by this report. I   have   noticed   that   our   long   walks   are   getting   shorter.   I   used   to   say   that   they   were   10-12   miles   with   the   occasional   longer one.   Then   the   longer   ones   stopped.   Then   there   was   the   occasional   shorter   ones.   Nowadays   we   rarely   do   11   miles,   even   on weekends,   and   those   are   the   least   well   supported.   Perhaps   this   is   simply   the   sign   of   an   aging   membership.   Another   is   that we   are   struggling   more   and   more   to   find   both   leaders   for   long   walks   and   members   who   are   willing   to   drive   the   hour   which used to be common for our summer walks. Your committee will monitor these issues. Our   first   special   event   of   the   year   was   the   Spring   Weekend   in   Exmouth.   We   had   a   large   turn-out,   brilliant   weather   and   a really   good   hotel.   The   area   is   not   an   obvious   choice   for   a   coastal   break   but   I   think   there   was   a   lot   of   appreciative   surprise   as to   how   lovely   it   is.   We   also   had   the   Day   from   Hell   as   we   learnt   about   the   problems   of   over-relying   on   satnavs.   But   really, could   we   have   anticipated   that   there   are   two   villages   called   Sticklepath   in   Devon?   Enough   said   about   that   other   than   once again   to   thank   everyone   for   their   exemplary   patience   in   the   face   of   these   difficulties.   Thanks   to   John,   Mike,   Ruth,   Beryl   and Angie for leading the walks, to Beryl for the chocoholic bingo quiz and to everyone else for not setting off the fire alarms. The   coach   ramble   was   to   Betws   y   Coed.   We   had   to   cancel   this   through   lack   of   support   in   2016   so   it   was   heartening   to   have a   virtually   full   coach.   This   was   partly   down   to   having   a   few   non-walkers   who   had   the   chance   to   visit   Bodnant   Gardens. Nevertheless   we   had   two   well-supported   walks   lead   by   Angie,   Joan,   Tony   and   Chris   (who   also   organised   the   day   including the   customary   superb   weather).   I   thank   them   all.   The   moment   that   sticks   in   my   memory   was   completing   the   climb   on   to   a plateau and seeing Snowdonia just ahead of us. And slap in the middle was my favourite mountain, Tryfan. The   weather   was   less   kind   for   our   evening   event   in   August,   a   treasure   hunt   around   Penkridge,   but   we   still   had   a   decent turn-out   and   stayed   predominantly   dry.   I   think   all   of   us   went   to   parts   of   Penkridge   that   we   didn’t   know   existed   and   we   all made it back to the pub. Thanks to Carol for organising this. Perhaps   the   most   disappointing   aspect   of   the   year   was   the   low   number   (29)   who   attended   the   autumn   weekend   in   Great Yarmouth.   We   do   seem   to   struggle   more   in   autumn   than   in   spring.   In   fact   we   were   well   below   Just-for-Group’s   usual minimum   number   but   we   must   have   some   credit   in   the   bank   with   them   because   they   readily   allowed   us   to   go   ahead   with   the booking.   Our   walks   were   varied   –   Foxton   Locks,   the   north   Norfolk   coast,   Breydon   Water   and   Granchester   –   and   the   scenery was   at   its   best   because   of   sun   (including   the   orange-brown   sun   which   was   a   sensation   on   Facebook)   Beryl,   Chris,   Tony, Angie,   Carol   and   Jenny   led   walks   and   Pam   organised   one   quiz.   We   survived   another   bingo   quiz   from   the   doyenne   of   the genre. We returned to Tillington Hall for our Christmas celebration. This was full again – not surprising after the previous year’s triumph. There was a problem when the hotel discovered they had double booked our room. They asked us if we would mind moving to the public area and offered some free wine in compensation. We said “Yes” I’m not sure what then happened but fairly late on we were given an upgrade to their best function room and we still got the free wine!  Is there no end to Beryl’s talents! The   dinner   ramble   had   two   unusual   features.   Firstly   the   organiser   was   missing,   having   had   a   better   offer.   Also   missing   were any   rambles,   another   casualty   of   the   Beast   from   the   East.   Fortunately   the   roads   to   the   pub   were   clear   so   that   the   meal   could go   ahead   at   the   Old   Dun   Cow   in   Colton.   The   food   was   good   and   we   virtually   had   a   room   to   ourselves   which   always improves   the   ambiance.   Perhaps   we   should   go   back   next   year   so   that   Mike   and   Angie   can   show   off   the   walks   they designed.   Our   thanks   to   Chris   for   finding   the   pub   and   to   Angie   for   pulling   the   arrangements   together   when   the   better   offer came along. Staffordshire County Council initiated a public consultation on the maintenance of public rights of way. This seemed to be driven by a perceived need to reduce expenditure on maintenance so release funding for other services, social care being cited as the prime example. SRG submitted comments to the effect that cuts in the relatively small budget for public rights of way was likely to be counter-productive through eroding the known health benefits of walking as well as suggesting alternative strategies for savings particularly in corporate governance. Sadly the County Council seems intent on pursuing its original proposals. In   March   we   were   saddened   to   learn   that   Stuart   Dunmore   had   died.   We   knew   that   his   health   had   been   failing   and   that   he had   recently   gone   into   residential   care.   As   a   group   we   owed   him   a   lot;   he   had   been   a   regular   walk   leader,   helped   with   pre- walks,   served   on   the   committee   and   was   generous   with   his   time   and   expertise.   I   was   pleased   that   so   many   of   us   were   able to   attend   his   funeral   and   I   know   that   we   will   help   Maggie   in   coming   to   terms   with   life   without   Stuart.      Another   friend   of   the group   also   died.   Most   of   you   will   not   have   heard   of   Fiona   Brownsell   but   she   was   our   main   contact   at   Just   for   Groups   and contributed   significantly   to   the   planning   of   weekends   away.   Also   on   the   health   front   Chris   Johnson,   Marian   Powell   and   Tony Leech have had problems but happily seem to have recovered well. I have always said that this is a friendly group but I was still touched by the support which Beryl and I received in coping with particular family problems last year. We appreciated this. Thank you. Trevor Whincup