The Ramblers Association, East Surrey Walkers Group
35th Annual General Meeting Reports, November 2017
Chairman’s Report Arthur Darby
I believe that the reports that follow, from my fellow Committee Members, show that East Surrey Walkers continues to thrive by members organising enjoyable activities. What is particularly pleasing is that we have been able to run an astonishing 28% more walks than in the previous year, while the average number on walks has stayed the same at 15.8/15.9. Over the three years that Liz has been Walks Co-ordinator, supported by Nigel as Walks Administrator, the number of walks has gone up by around 50% and the variety of walks has greatly increased. This is a tremendous achievement and many thanks to all our leaders for enabling this to happen.
Membership of the Group has increased by about 11% over the last year, and Helen, in her first year as Membership Secretary, has done a great job in welcoming new members. Over the last three years our membership has gone up by 42% as a result of our publicity (thanks Keith) and by personal recommendations. One of Ramblers aims is to get more people walking and we are helping achieve this in East Surrey.
Our social events have proved more popular than ever, now with the addition of a Disco, all thanks to our Social Secretary Pamela and her team. We've organised three holidays this year, thanks principally to Judy B, Tony, and Anne J. The first two were very successful, the third is happening as I write! We followed last year's coach trip to Canterbury with one to Arundel, and already there is talk of Winchester next year.
Another of the Ramblers aims, keeping the path network in good condition, is increasingly a challenge following Surrey CC's drastic budget cuts. The Footpath Secretaries Tony, Richard, Benedict, and the path wardens do a vital task, while Ken's Krew led by Barbara continue to do a great job on the ground.
Our communications with members are almost entirely via the internet and my thanks go those behind the scenes, Helen W, Brian S, Adam, and Pauline G who enable our website and Notice Boards to work efficiently. Another largely unseen figure is our Treasurer, Julie, who has picked up not only the core job but also the Social Fund and payments for UK holidays.
My thanks to everyone else who has enabled us to achieve all that we have. ESW has a maximum three year term for Committee members and we aim to do the same for other officers, so it is not a lifetime job as in many Ramblers groups. We are therefore continually seeking new volunteers - please help with an activity you enjoy and speak to any Committee member. Finally being Chair of such a thriving group over the last three years has been an honour and my best wishes go to my successor whom I'm sure you will support as you have me.
Treasurer’s Report Julie Atkinson
Due to an unavoidable commitment I regret that I cannot be present at the AGM, but my report is as follows and I will have to prevail on another committee member to read this out on my behalf. If there are any questions raised during the AGM that the committee is unable to answer please ask the Secretary to minute them and I will answer them as soon as I can. We end the year with a carried forward balance of £1839 cash in hand as follows:
General funds £558
Designated funds £770 (for the purchase of kissing gates)
Expense float £125 (for Ken’s Krew expense reimbursement)
Social and holiday funds: £386
Detail of income, expenditure and movement of funds can be seen from the accounts and perhaps it serves little purpose to comment further on these here, but please feel free to ask if you have any questions. However, a broad explanation regarding the purpose of the funds is as follows:
General and Designated Funds:
If we are holding more general funds at the end of the year than we believe we need, a transfer is made to the designated fund which is used to purchase kissing gates for installation by the hard-working Ken’s Krew. For the year ended September 2017 we have allocated £600 for this purpose.
Further allocations were made to the kissing gate designated fund during the year thanks to the generosity of some Ken’s Krew volunteers who have asked for their expense claims to be used for this purpose rather than being reimbursed. Total donations of this nature this year were £83.31. A kissing gate costs in the region of £250 - £280 so we should be able to fund three kissing gates this year.
Ken’s Krew Float:
This is held by the Ken’s Krew organizer to reimburse expense claims made by volunteers who carry out footpath maintenance and install kissing gates.
Holiday funds represent amounts received in advance from members less amounts paid out to the holiday companies. Each holiday nets back to zero once all receipts and payments have been made, although there may sometimes be a minor profit or loss. If at the end of the financial year there is a net profit or loss on holidays that have taken place by the end of that financial year, the committee will decide how to deal with this. A profit could be passed to the kissing gate designated fund unless some of it is needed offset losses on other holidays.
The social fund represents amounts received from members for social events less amounts paid out for the associated costs. The Cream Tea and BBQ made profits thanks to the generosity of members bringing food and to the tight control on the cost of other items by the Social Secretary. We carry money forward year to year for the following reasons:
- so that we have cash in hand for payments in advance for future events
to offset possible losses on events with high fixed costs such as the Barn Dance as we cannot be certain of having enough attendees to cover all costs
to subsidise the costs of the NY Lunch and the Walking Wounded Teas.
A full set of Financial Accounts for the year ending 30th September 2017 can be found HERE
Membership Secretary's Report Helen Whiteley
All data runs from 1st of October 2016 to 30th September 2017. This report was compiled in keeping with the Ramblers recruitment dates. We have 442 members in East Surrey Walkers.
New, re-instated and transfer members = 85
Totally new to the group =73
Introduced, by obtaining an email address by the walk leader on a walk = 50
Re-instated members, left or lapsed from the group and re-joined ESW = 4
Lapsed members who have appeared for four months on the pending list, Ramblers give them a status as lapsed, so haven’t renewed = 15
Resigned, members who have informed the Ramblers that they are not renewing their membership, due to moving out of the area or got another hobby or too busy with other commitments = 12 .
Transfer, members that have moved from an existing group to ESW, e.g. Reigate Ramblers = 8
Deceased members = 3
Although we are recruiting new members we still are losing them too. On average we are gaining around 50 new members a year from 2013 onwards. What I have observed is that the members that frequently walk with us are renewing their membership whilst those that don’t walk with us on a regular basis are prone not to renew.
Since 2013, 300 members, 2014, 304, 2015, 351, 2016, 395 & 2017, 442.
What is working well?
As you can see with the figures below word of mouth/friends is the most successful way of recruiting new members. I want to thank all leaders who have passed on email addresses to the Membership Secretary; this is a great system as we have a great conversion rate to a potential member becoming a member of ESW. Keep up the good work. New members are joining us because we are a very friendly group; we run a diverse and varied walks programme together with well attended social events and super holidays in the UK and abroad.
Recruitment This information was obtained by my “welcome” phone call asking our new members how they had heard about ESW. These stats run from 1st of October 2016 to 30th September 2017. When a couple (husband and wife) responded they were counted as one and the figures below is an approx amount as not everyone answered their telephone, or replied back to my email.
- Word of mouth, friends = 27
- Google = 9 3.
- Ramblers website =3
- Facebook = 2
- Street life (no longer being used) = 5
- Magazine/Newsletter = 6
- Saw ESW’s name on a kissing gate = 1
- Leaflet = 1
- Newspaper = 0
I want to take this opportunity to thank Pauline Guy for her support throughout the year as Membership Administrator, she has done an excellent job and we make a great team. I will be stepping down from Membership Secretary after one year as I am standing for the Walks Co-ordinator role.
Finally last but no means least I am really proud and happy to announce that East Surrey Walkers have won the Recruitment and Retention cup coming first out of 18 Surrey clubs. The competition is always very close between us and SABRE, they won it last year so it is nice to go out with a bang smashing SABRE by 13 points. I will be collecting the cup at the Surrey Area AGM in February 2018
Walks Co-ordinator Report Liz Whittaker
East Surrey Walkers have gone from strength to strength in the last year.
In the 12 months to the end of September we had 4686 walkers on 294 walks. This compares with 3638 walkers on 230 walks in the previous 12 months. I hope you are duly impressed!
Looking at our walks programme; as usual we have the weekend walks – one long and one short, plus the ever popular Wednesday short walk. Ambles are now in their fourth year with an increased programme. They continue to provide an important option for new walkers and those whose fitness has declined. At the other end of the energy scale the Fast Fitness Workout Walks have similarly increased in popularity with more walks lead by an expanding number of leaders. The linear walkers have completed The Eden Valley walk, the Tandridge Border path, the Thames Estuary Path and then the Southerly 12 stages of the Greenwich Meridian Trail. Additionally our walks programme has many ‘other’ walks; these are ‘anything goes’ – a variety of lengths and starting times. During the summer the evening walks finishing at a pub proved very popular. Currently we are offering a variety of walks on most Thursdays.
How has all this been achieved? The answer is simple; our wonderful team of leaders. They are the (often unsung) heroes of East Surrey Walkers and we owe all of them a huge ‘thank you’. We need more leaders – I ask everyone who does not already do so to lead a walk in 2018. We will give you all the support you need. There are training courses for new leaders, we can provide a variety of walk ideas, explain procedures and ‘buddy’ you on your first walk. So please take your turn so that ESW can continue and expand its walks programme.
This is now the end of my term as Walks Coordinator. I would like to thank the committee for their support and also my thanks to Nigel who, as Walks Administrator, responds so admirably to my endless emails requesting help. An equally heartfelt thank you is due to the leaders who have put up with my badgering, cajoling, threatening etc.
I wish my successor as Walks Coordinator all the best. I am confident that East Surrey Walkers is striding on to a bright future.
Publicity Officer’s Report Keith Chesson
I have now completed three years as Publicity Officer and will be standing down at the AGM.
Our publicity continues to focus on promoting the group and its activities, both to members and non - members. During the past three years, a new logo for ESW has been introduced and our display material ( posters, flyers and stickers ) for use in Libraries/Supermarkets/ and Billboards has been updated.
Every month I send out details of forthcoming walks and a news story to some 20 local magazines. Events are an ideal way of generating publicity, as are local or human interest stories. Space is often at a premium, but we continue to be well supported by most publications throughout the year, for which we are very appreciative.
During my term as Publicity Officer I have been very grateful to Tony Pearson for pioneering the development of social media sites, and this continues to be a growth area for communication.
Prior to major holiday periods, I have ensured that our flyers and leaflets are prominently displayed in Oxted and surrounding areas. This supports all our other activities, and is an important element in building sub conscious awareness, not only amongst members or potential new members, but also local news editors.
It is often hard to quantify our publicity efforts, but my overall impression is that in the past three years we have successfully continued to build awareness of ESW and our ‘ Boots’ logo
Social Secretary’s Report Pamela Cunniffe
2017 has been another very successful year on the social side with numbers of members attending our organised events increasing yet again. Along with the huge number and variety of walks on offer, the social events help to make ESW a great group to belong to, encouraging healthy exercise and good friendships.
The New Year Lunch at Aggie’s Hall in January was a great success with 78 members enjoying the festivities and the delicious Christmas meal prepared by Wendy Taylor and her team. A good time was had by all.
In February, Helen and Amanda organised a new event – a Disco at St. Peter’s Hall in Limpsfield. This proved to be very popular with members and their families and friends with 95 ravers bopping the night away and tucking into a delicious fish and chip supper. Well done Helen and Amanda!
At the end of March, 62 members attended the Annual Dinner which was again held at the Bakery in Tatsfield and the evening was full of lively conversation and delicious food and wine.
The Cream Tea in June was once again generously hosted by John and Di Nathan in their beautiful garden. The sun shone, the tea flowed and the scones and cakes contributed by members were absolutely scrumptious! Thank you John and Di for your kind hospitality and for all the hard work involved in getting your garden ready for us all to enjoy the day. In July, we revived the Sausage Sizzle following a Wednesday walk. In the past this had been a popular event but had lapsed over the past couple of years. Noel and I hosted it in our garden after a 5 mile walk around the Warlingham area and once again, we were lucky with the weather. The sun shone and we all had a very enjoyable afternoon, munching on sausages and indulging in a glass or two of wine and friendly conversation.
In August, with fingers crossed for yet another sunny day, the legendary BBQ was held at Rosie’s house. We managed to squeeze 70 East Surrey Walkers into Rosie’s lovely garden and we dined and wined well on burgers, sausages, chicken and a huge selection of salads and mouth-watering puddings, all kindly contributed by members. Many thanks to Rosie for her wonderful hospitality in letting us invade her garden and her kitchen and for all her hard work in preparing the garden and helping us make the day such a great success.
Other events have been the London Blind Walk, successfully organised by Di Nathan, and the Walking Wounded tea parties hosted by various members and organised by Sue Halsey to enable members who are unable to walk for various reasons to get together and still feel part of the Group. Still to come is the Barn Dance at St. Peter’s Hall on 18 November. If you haven’t already done so, please put your name on the list in the usual way by responding to the Noticeboard email. This is a fun evening with an element of chaos and a delicious fish and chip supper.
None of these events just happen – they are the result of hard work on the part of the Social Team – so I’d like to say a number of huge ‘Thank-Yous’ – to Anne Jagelman, to Fran Edwards, to Angie Horrigan and to all our supportive partners, Mark, Doug and Noel, all of whom are heroes when it comes to setting up tables, putting up bunting, manning the BBQ etc, etc, etc. Another big Thank You to Sarah, Judy, Alice, Liz and Sue who are always quick to volunteer their assistance at events. Great work Team. And finally, Thank You to you – East Surrey Walkers – Thank You for coming to the events, Thank You for being so willing to make salads, cakes and puddings and Thank You for making the events such fun.
This next year will be the last year for us as a Social Team and we are anxious to plan for our succession and share the experience we’ve gained over the past 2 years. If anyone wants to join us, please have a word with a member of the Committee or the Social Team.
Local Footpath Secretary’s Report Tony Pearson
Over the past 2 years the County Council budget for path maintenance has been cut from approx £400k to £100k. The impact we are now seeing includes less vegetation cutting by contractors, fewer repairs and replacement of gates, stiles and waymark posts and more reliance on volunteers. Whilst some walking groups do little to help maintain the paths they use, The Ramblers has always had, as one of its priorities, the protection of the extensive rights of way network in this country and we in East Surrey Walkers will continue to encourage our members to become involved in this aspect of our Group’s activities.
Appointed by the Surrey Area Council of The Ramblers, we have 3 Local Footpath Secretaries, who cover the 22 civil parishes in the Tandridge district. They report defects to the County Council and liaise with SCC staff with a view to appropriate action being taken. They also review applications to divert public footpaths and bridleways and co-ordinate much of the work of our path volunteers.
During the past year we have responded to various diversion applications covering Caterham, Godstone, Limpsfield and Lingfield. We have a team of 8 members who have been trained to undertake semi-annual path inspections on behalf of SCC; this helps to determine the overall state of the county’s rights of way network. The last inspection in May indicated an overall 77% of paths in Surrey being rated as "easy to use"; this compares to 85% in May 2017. However, in Reigate and Tandridge the "easy to use" figure was down to 69%. We now have 23 members who have attended a SCC course to be Volunteer Path Wardens and are able to undertake tasks such as vegetation clearance, way marking etc. In both Godstone and Limpsfield parishes we now have teams of 8 Path Checkers, each covering a section of the parish, to identify defects. All of this is in addition to the excellent work done by the members of Ken’s Krew.
Two long outstanding path closures are now close to being resolved. In Horne, near to the Mormon Temple, 3 connecting footpaths had been very difficult to use for some 7 years. Following repeated efforts by us to get SCC staff to take action, the paths are once again clear and waymarked, thanks partly to our volunteer work. The other major problem has been near Lower South Park Farm (Bletchingley and Godstone parishes), where a path had been obstructed for several years. SCC have finally taken action and it is expected that 2 replacement stiles will shortly be installed by Ken' Krew volunteers.
At the end of September there were over 200 defects in the Tandridge district that had previously been reported by us to SCC and which, as far as we are aware, are still outstanding. The main types of defects are faulty/ unsafe stiles and missing way mark posts. What can you do? Well, the more of our members who volunteer for path maintenance activities, the more likely that we can get this total gradually reduced. If you participate in our group walks, then why not put something back? Do contact one of the Local Footpath Secretaries if you are prepared to volunteer. Finally, a special thank you to all those members who already volunteer on path work, please keep up the good work!
Ken's Krew Barbara Bulman
As you may know, I took over from Ken Clare, as lead for Ken’s Krew at the beginning of 2017.
Our motley group of 11 has attended a task each month, giving approximately 425 hours of our time. Well done us?
We have noticed a distinct change in the tasks we are now completing, following the draconian cuts to the SCC Rights of Way budget. More clearances, and fewer installations, now they try not to employ contractors, but we have installed four kissing gates, repaired a bridge at Smallfield, replaced and repaired steps at Gangers Hill, as well as installing a whole clutch of waymark posts and waymarks across Limpsfield Chart, and other locations, to help walkers keep on track.
Our work has opened paths that have become impassable, and improved ease of access for many walkers to paths in our area. We have been blessed to receive kind words, and thanks from walkers passing while we work, and also on the ESW Facebook page. We are obviously pleased our efforts do not go unnoticed.
We are now working more closely with the Reigate Ramblers workparty, sharing team members and tools with them, which is proving to be mutually beneficial, allowing we are all busy people, so team members are not always able to attend every task. Reigate have fewer members than ESW, so are extremely appreciative that Geoff Blackwell and I go out with them, and David Chippendale from Reigate comes along on many ESW tasks.
ESW has donated two gates from group funds this year, to be installed locally, replacing damaged and dangerously rotted stiles, improving access, and reducing the potential for injury. We hope this generous gesture may be repeated. Any member wishing to make a donation, however small, towards the purchase of gates, should speak to the committee.