East Surrey Walkers

Walking for Pleasure

Chair's Chatter & News Letter October 2018

 It has been a while since I last did a Chair’s Chatter and quite a bit has been going on. As in my last Chatter I gave you some information about me, I thought it might be nice to do the same for some of the other members of the Committee in case you do not know them

Spotlight on: Our Membership Secretary

This time in the spotlight is our Membership Secretary, Pauline Guy who has been a member of ESW for three years. In addition to that official role, she composes much of the information for our weekly Noticeboards before sending them out.

Pauline is one of 5 siblings and was born in Croydon where she went to school and college until she left home to start a career in Hotel Management. She had a real passion for food and cooking, inspired by her mother, and dreamt of owning her own hotel one day. She spent 10 years working in this industry but eventually decided that she needed a career change because of the unsocial hours. She does however still love food and cooking, but for fun rather than work.

She then joined a large company where she worked variously in finance, sales, marketing, procurement and information technology. We all remember Y2K (the dreaded Millenium Bug) – well Pauline’s job at that time was as a project manager dealing with this issue, and while most of us partied on that New Year’s Eve, Pauline was in a command centre under Scotland Yard ensuring that the world as we know it did not stop at midnight!

Pauline lives in Caterham with her husband, and they have lived there for 28 years. They have had 3 separate building projects added over time and now have the house of their dreams. In addition to volunteering with ESW, she also gives time to the WEA which is an adult education charity that offers courses to give a helping hand to people looking for work and also leisure courses for those who are never too old to learn.

But beware – Pauline has an adventurous streak to her. She climbed Sydney Harbour Bridge for her 50th birthday, she has swum with dolphins, and if your walk takes you near a zip wire – hold on to Pauline – she has trouble resisting them!

Our Walks

Walking of course is our main activity, and we are going from strength to strength with those. We have 6 or 7 walks most weeks, ranging from leisurely 3 mile ambles completed in 2+ hours, to fast fitness walks of 3 or 4 miles completed in an hour. We have our usual popular Wednesday walks that are usually around 6 miles often with a lunch group afterwards, while on Saturdays and Sundays there is always a medium length and a long length walk. In the past year or so we have added a brisk longer walk (6-7 miles) once a month, to be completed in 2-3 hours. And finally we have other ‘anything goes’ walks – whatever the leader wants, short or long, fast or slow, food or no food!

All of this depends on our leaders, and at the moment we have 70 leaders – which bearing in mind we around 300 walks a year, is quite an achievement by those leaders. We really appreciate all that you do.

But having said that, of course we would love to have more leaders, and there is lots of help available to you. We run leader’s courses which will give you confidence in some of the technicalities of how to lead a group of stray cats – sorry, I meant walkers - tips on how to plan the walks, and some assistance with map reading.

In addition, Brian S has started running courses for using mobile phone navigation particularly focusing on an app called Viewranger. I personally find this gives me much more confidence in leading a group as it will always at least show me where I am, and where my route is, and how to put the two together! I really recommend this course.

If you are worried about being thrown in the deep end, we have a ‘buddy’ system on offer. One of our experienced leaders will help you with as much or as little as you want, from planning a walk, pre-walking it with you, and even co-leading it with you on the day. Do give it a try.

I have also started working on a ‘library’ of walks for members of East Surrey Walkers which will be available either in paper format or downloadable to your mobile phone as a GPX file. I would love some help on this, so if you are interested in being involved please do contact me.

Membership

With regard to membership, we continue to do really well – we now have 465 members, compared to 442 at our AGM last November. Most of our new members come from introductions by existing members and once they come on one of our walks, most people find we are so friendly and welcoming that they are happy to join us. So well done to everyone who helps with this and contributes to making us such a vibrant and enthusiastic group.

General Data Protection Regulations

You are no doubt aware of the government’s General Data Protection Regulations that have come in to force, and your committee has spent a lot of time trying to deal with how this impacts us. Of our 465 members, 58 do not use email and so have virtually no communications with us.

Of the other 407 members for whom we hold email addresses, 125 have requested not to receive communications from the Rambler’s Association. This gives us a major problem, as according to advice from Central Office, we are not allowed to hold a separate email list. Strictly, we must delete those 123 members from our mailing list which means they will no longer receive our Walks Programme or our weekly Noticeboards with lots of information about social events and other non-walking information. 

I would like to appeal to those 123 members to contact Ramblers – either via the internet or by telephone – and change their preference to allow email communication. Yes, I appreciate that this means you will receive some emails from Central Office but in reality they only send about one a month.

Footpath issues

We are all aware of the cutbacks being imposed both at central and local government level, and that is hitting the budget for Surrey County Council Highways department which is the department that looks after our footpaths. Their budget has been cut so far that they are now only able to deal with the most major footpath issues.

However our Footpath Secretaries liaise with them, and with the assistance of Ken’s Krew and our volunteer path wardens, significant work is being done by members of East Surrey Walkers to maintain and improve the footpaths we use. You will have seen on our website details of a kissing gate that has been installed by Ken’s Krew to replace a defective stile, and our volunteer path wardens have most recently been helping SCC inspect sites where fallen trees have been reported, so that SCC knows exactly what work needs to be done, saving them a lot of time.

Also relating to footpath issues, Tony P is making progress with a Donate A Gate Scheme. The intention is that if you would like a kissing gate to be installed either in memory of someone or just generally for the pleasure of helping, you will be able to make a donation and our team will install it. More information about this will follow in due course.

Social Events and Holidays

I won’t detail all of these as you will have read about them on either our weekly Noticeboards or website – or even better, attended them - but we do have a fantastic range of events. Once again, these events would not be possible without our members putting in time and effort. For the social events, please do offer your services to our social secretary as many hands make light work, and for the holidays please offer to lead walks – these will have been preplanned, so you will only be involved in leading rather than the planning.

Our AGM will be on 10th November, and I look forward to seeing many of you there. Other dates to make sure are in your diary are as follows:                

            Walking Wounded Tea Party – Tuesday 2 October 2018
            AGM – 10 November 2018
            Autumn Social – Saturday 24 November 2018
            New Year’s Lunch – Sunday 20 January 2019
            Walk with London Blind Ramblers – Sunday 19 May 2019

There are also group holidays to

             Abingworth (2-5 November 2018)

             Torquay (30 November – 3 December 2018)

             Selworthy near Exmoor (29 June – 6 July 2019)

             Bourton on the Water (14-18 October 2019)

    and   Portugal (31 May – 9 June 2019).

All of these holidays are full but if you are interested, please do contact one of the Committee so that you could be put on a waiting list.