AGM November 2016
Fifty-four members attended the 2016 AGM at Clitheroe Cricket Club. During the business part of the AGM meeting, Nan Errington, the chair, gave her report in which she highlighted the huge range of tasks undertaken by committee members behind the scenes, as well as the more visible work of walk leaders, who provide an extensive programme of some 125 walks each year. Nan illustrated her report with a poem, celebrating our walks.
In addition, the Group enjoys a healthy programme of social events and an income from the sales of its two books which is used to promote the work of the Group. In the last year, this included the production of a booklet of “Guidelines” for walk leaders and a support kit for leaders including first aid equipment and other items for emergency use.
The Group remains alert to threats to the local countryside and its accessibility, and to preserving the rights of way network. Locally, despite cuts in Lancashire County Council funding, members of the path maintenance sub-group continue to do what they can to maintain paths and report defects. Nationally, Group members made an impressive contribution to the 'Big Pathwatch' campaign, managing to survey nearly 90% of the key sample squares within the Ribble Valley area.
Irene Ingham will take over the work of Group Secretary from Ben. Other changes were the replacement of the Social Secretary, with Barbara Gould taking over from Alison Williams. Maureen Wearden will also be joining the committee.
After this was concluded, there were many tributes and presentations to Ben on his retirement after 35 years service as Group Secretary. Nan noted that she was the sixth chair with whom Ben had worked. She also calculated that during those 35 years, Ben must have written over 96,000 words in his reports for meetings and newsletters, and had probably walked in excess of 15,000 miles on walks with the Group.
Michael Counter, chair of North East Lancashire Area Ramblers, presented Ben with a volunteer certificate from the Ramblers Association. Commenting on the skills needed to undertake the role of secretary, he said, “All of these skills Ben has and many more. Over the years these skills and knowledge have become invaluable to the Association. Ben has led many rambles for the Group, walked and recorded the state of every footpath within the Ribble Valley and made a valuable contribution to two successful books that the group has published. All this, as well as the secretarial work necessary for a smooth running and successful local group. Campaigns have been planned, hard fought and won. At times Ben was like a terrier and would not let go. He persevered until he got the result that he required, which was invariably the correct solution.”
In her appreciation, Pat Parrott, a founder member of Clitheroe Ramblers from 1969, and herself a committee member from its beginning to the present day, highlighted that Ben was 'always right' when it came to factual information. Earlier, in his resignation speech, Ben had singled out Pat and thanked her for her support, saying she had been a tower of strength to him, always ready to give advice when required.
The current vice-chair, Ruth Rouxel, presented Ben with a new rucksack and tokens for outdoor equipment, a present from the Group members.
After the presentations and speeches, the members attending enjoyed a buffet supper, while watching a background slide show of photographs taken on walks, and studying a series of display boards, featuring press cuttings and photos of Ben during his period as Group secretary.
Although no longer on the committee, Ben will still be leading walks for the Group in the future.