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MINUTES OF THE FORTY-FOURTH ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING OF
THE MALVERN HILLS DISTRICT FOOTPATH SOCIETY
Held at Lansdowne Church Hall at 7.30pm
On Wednesday 22nd March 2017
OPENING REMARKS
The Chairman, Roger Wicker welcomed 44 members to the meeting
Roger reminded the meeting that membership subscriptions became due on 1st February 2017 and that only paid-up members were eligible to vote at the AGM

APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE
Apologies were received from Robert Ashmore, Allan Barnwell, Meryl and Frank Cochrane, Kevin Hill, Jacqueline Hollis, Liz and Jim Noon, Dan Petersen, Mary and John Robertson, Beverley Shrubb, John Tether, Hilary Thorogood, Janet and Robin Whittlestone, Mary Wicker, Anne Woods, Mavis Howe

MINUTES OF THE PREVIOUS ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING
The minutes of the 2016 AGM had been on the Society’s website for many months; a summary had appeared in Newsletter 130.There was one amendment requested by Lyn Everitt under AOB to say that members should meet at the junction of Imperial Road and Avenue Road.  Robin Waterhouse proposed and Terry Arnold seconded that they were a true record of the previous AGM. This was agreed unanimously and they were signed by the Chairman

MATTERS ARISING FROM PREVIOUS MINUTES
There were no actions from the previous AGM

REPORTS
Reports were received from the officers of the Society and are summarised below. The reports of the Secretary and Treasurer were proposed and seconded by those named after each summary. Those from other officers of the Society and from the Society’s Sections were proposed and seconded as a group. The full text of each report is held on a paper file copy of these minutes

Secretary’s Report
Your Committee has met as a full Committee again six times during the year - with a continuing excellently high level of attendance
Each meeting has received reports from your Rights of Way and your Social Sections, together with reports from your Secretary, your Treasurer, your Newsletter Editor and Walks Programmes Compiler, your Membership Secretary, together with reports from your Longer Saturday Walks Organiser, your Shorter Saturday Walks Organiser, your Midweeks Walks Organiser, your Leisure Walks Organiser and your Extra Easy Walks Organiser:   there’s a lot goes on thanks to all of these people
We will be hearing reports from all of them, and other Leaders of our Society, during this evening
Each Committee meeting has resulted in decisions being taken for the benefit of our Society and detailed minutes with actions required to be taken, and by whom, have been circulated to your Committee after each meeting
Our Society needs to please bear in mind that the Society came into being more than 4 decades ago to ensure that footpaths in our district are properly maintained for the benefit of everyone:   we are something much more than just a walking group - we accept a responsibility in this to the whole of our community
In passing I personally would like to give my especial thanks to Roger Wicker, who as you know is now stepping down after 5 years as our Chairman, and to Angela Partridge who was our splendid Longer Saturday Walks Organiser for the past several years:   thank you very much for your help Roger and Angela
I am pleased to report that you have a strong and committed and active Committee and I would again this year like to personally thank everyone on your Committee for their willing and effective cooperation and for their willing and speedy responses
Jeffrey Thorogood, Secretary

Treasurer’s Report
I am pleased to submit for your approval the Statement of Income and Expenditure which has been approved by our Auditor, Alan Starkey, and has been considered by your Committee and has been made available for your consideration this evening.   The accounts show a healthy financial position, but we do need to be concerned that during at least the past year the income received by way of membership fees has been exceeded by our overall running costs to the extent of nearly £500.  The costs of printing and mailing hard copies of the Newsletter and Walks Programmes largely account for this shortfall, and our Committee will be looking further into this in the coming year.
The accounts for the previous year were approved by acclamation
Robin Waterhouse, Treasurer

Membership Secretary’s Report
My apologies for not being present this evening – I’ve suffered a broken leg, which is on its way to recovery
The number of members currently paid-up for this year stands at 128
The number of members paid-up for last year totalled 161
Robert Ashmore, Membership Secretary

Saturday Longer Walks Report
Good evening ladies and gentlemen, yet another successful year of walking, with a varied selection of good walks. We tried a different idea for New Year’s Eve as it fell on a Saturday, with a walk up to the Beacon for midnight, due to the mist swirling about we descended a little to get under the cloud where we had a superb view of the firework celebrations over Worcestershire. We had sparklers kindly brought along by one of the happy band of eight who took part in the venture.
A good weeks walking was enjoyed on the Isle of Wight holiday in October, where the weather was kind to us.
Finally I would like to say thank you to each member who has submitted a longer walk to the programme and wish my successor a good years “programming”. It would be nice if more members would come forward to lead longer walks. I would like to wish everyone a year of happy and healthy walking. Thank you and goodnight.
Angela Partridge, Longer Saturday Walks Organizer

Saturday Shorter Walks Report
Mr Chairman, Ladies and Gentlemen the Saturday short walks are proving to be a popular addition that are well supported, for which I thank those members who attend, but even more those people who provide the walks, without whose input the whole venture would fail.  Whilst the aim is to provide a shorter alternative every Saturday if there is a week without a short walk in the programme then that is because no one has agreed to lead a walk that week the moral is simple: don’t wait to be asked, volunteer and the programme will be filled.
Whilst not wishing to dissuade anyone from attending the Saturday Short Walks, please be aware that they are aimed at those members who cannot manage the distance or pace enjoyed by the more able longer walkers, who may well find the shorter walks rather limited.  So, whilst some of the longer walkers may be unhappy about the pace of the slower walkers, it is equally unfair for the more able walkers to force the pace when on a shorter walk.  Each type of walk should be happily enjoyed by both sets of walker comfortable within their own limitations.
In closing please remember the MHDFS mantra: never walk in front of the leader.
John Barr, Saturday Shorter Walks Organizer

Mid-week Walks Report
A full mid-week walk programme has continued and been well-supported, often with 20 or more walkers turning up.  The walks have had a lot of variety, including walks in our own area as well as further afield such as the Jewellery Quarter in Birmingham.  Approximately 180 miles have been walked, and that does not include the Leisure Walks, the Very Easy Walks, or the social events walks.  Overall, it has been another successful year for the mid-week walkers.
Betsy Brua, Midweek Walks Organizer

Mid-week Leisure Walks Report
Many thanks to all our members who volunteered to lead leisure walks over the last year. In particular to some of our newer members who have taken up the leadership challenge and led us on interesting and informative rambles around the Malvern area and beyond. Leisure walks have taken place as far afield as Pershore and Bromyard, as well as more local walks around Worcester and Hanley castle.
In August one of the Malvern Hills Conservators led another successful walk for MHDFS, this time around Castlemorton common. The guide explained the history and the habitats of the common land.
Overall the leisure walks continue to be well supported, although more volunteers to lead these walks would be very welcome.
Jane Dutton, Mid-week Leisure Walks Organizer

Extra Easy Walks Report
I am pleased to report that these 8 initial experimental walks have been well-received, and they have become good social occasions with many people staying on for a light lunch at the local pubs from which these circular walks are run
The walks never exceed 4 miles in length, have minimal height gain, have as few stiles as possible and are conducted at a very gentle pace
As hoped, they are giving opportunities to participate in MHDFS activities for long-established members who now need to down-scale
You may have seen Sue Nuttall’s letter in our current Newsletter, as a result of which we will now be running an Extra Easy Walk every month right through the year;   volunteer walks leaders will be most welcome – please see me afterwards
Jeff Thorogood, Extra Easy Walks Organizer

 

Publicity Report 2017
Mr Chairman, ladies and gentlemen, a report on publicity for the Malvern Hills District Footpath Society.
There are a number of ways in which the Society is making itself known to the general public.
Mrs Anne Wood has been very successful in placing adverts for our walks in the local Malvern Gazette, and in a local monthly magazine called 'All About etc, etc' in various formats. There is, for instance, one called 'All About West of the Hills', another I think is 'All About Worcester', and lots more.
We have our own web site, allowing us to reach out to the community, both locally and much further afield. This gives full details of our Society to all those with internet access, including the full up-to-date Walks Program. It has pages giving details of previous walks, lots of photographs and commentaries on holidays enjoyed in the past, and facts and figures about the Society and the areas in which we walk.
It is still true to say that a lot of newcomers to our Society initially discovered us through our web site; and liking what they saw, wanted to try us out. Through the web site we can keep the public right up-to-date with the latest news and changes.
Members benefit from the web site too. There have been a number of times recently when alterations to a walk were shown on the web site. In fact, any time that cancellations or alterations need to be made to the Walks Program, if given to me, these can be made known to all readers who are willing to check the pages for last minute up-dates.
More importantly, for publicising last minute updates, is the media of email. There is now about 80 email addresses in our database, which is very encouraging, but more would be better. As those in the database are aware, there have been occasions over the last few weeks where important information has been distributed to the membership. But, please do remember to update Robert, our membership secretary, with any changes to your contact details, so you will always receive the latest information.
Another big advantage of being on the email list, is the receipt of the Newsletter/Walks Program.
The last printed version was not of a very good quality. No fault of the producer I know, but the Email version is to a much higher standard, and in future will also be in colour, while the printed version will continue as just black and white.
In the public domain we are now putting out lots of colourful leaflets. The purpose of course, is to attract new members to swell our ranks. Some A4 posters are being placed in public areas such as Doctor's and Dentist's surgeries, Public Libraries, Post Offices and so on, and we have folded leaflets which are placed into Tourist Information Centres. These are available on the table to the side, for you to view or to take for circulation to your friends.
Last but not least, I again want to mention the web site photo gallery. From the home page you can find a link giving access to a gallery of photographs, showing places we have been, and things we have done. It is growing all the time and I hope you will find something new each time you access it. Go take a look.
The latest statistics for our website www.mhdfs.org.uk
All Statistics per month since January 2016:
Average visits to the site were:                                                            2016 - 882                                             2017 - 2,297
Average pages read were:                                                                                                2016 - 2,093                                          2017 - 3,481
Average hits (clicks) were:                                                                                                2016 - 9,608                                          2017 - 10,251
That is about the same number of visits to the web site as last year for 2016, but a huge increase for the 3 months of 2017.  Notably, there were a lot of visits from Russian and US connections.
Thank you Ladies and Gentlemen. Any questions?
Jim Bullett, Publicity

 

Walks Program Report

Mr Chairman, Ladies and Gentlemen, a report on the MHDFS Walks Program.
Over the last 12 months, through the dedicated efforts of our walks organisers, there has been no shortfall of walks for the Society walks programs. Generally the procedures now in place are very efficient and smooth running.
The Saturday walks have varied in length from 8 miles to 13 miles, with a shorter option having been available every week. The shorter options are now very much an integral part of our normal program, giving all members the ability to walk within their capabilities on a regular basis.
The weekday walks vary in length from 4-7 miles with a very popular, 'Extra Easy Walk' now on offer once a month plus of course the, also popular, Leisure Walk.
It is good to see newer members leading walks on both the Saturdays and in mid-week, so the future of our walks program is looking very secure right now.
Just one gentle reminder. Please remember that generally, walk leaders need to have their walk details for a future program period handed in to the organiser at least two months before the start of that period.
Finally, I wish to announce that there is going to be a new scheme operating in the summer program of this year, that is, the July - October program.
For some time now there have been a number of members who wish to occasionally take on a more strenuous challenge in a more distant location.
Therefore, once a month we are going to offer what is to be called, a 'Perfect Weather Walk'.
This will consist of 'Walk A', a more strenuous, longer walk, some distance away. Due to the longer drive, this walk will only be undertaken if the weather forecast for the day is 'perfect' i.e. dry and warm, with bad weather forecast.
An alternative ' Walk B' will also be planned, this will be undertaken instead of 'Walk A ' if that 'perfect weather walk' is cancelled.A decision will be made by the leader on the Friday before, when potential walkers for that Saturday will need to telephone leaders to see which option is going to be available.
Thank you, Ladies and Gentlemen. Any questions?
Jim Bullett, Website Manager

 

 

Media  Report
Believing that our Society needed more publicity and wider coverage of our walks I offered to put details on Malvern Gazette website which I have done for the past few months. I also email a selection of walks to the 'all about' magazine - a publication which is delivered free to numerous homes within our local area. More recently I have given a copy of the walks program to Malvern Tourist Information Centre who are happy and keen to share details with prospective walkers. If anyone is aware of other means of advertising our walks please let me know. I hope my efforts will encourage people to 'try' us out and moreover will join our club.
Anne Woods, Media Editor

Rights of Way Secretary’s Report
The routine work of the Section continued last year and we held four Section meetings in which we reviewed 87 planning applications and 42 legal orders. Also during the year we have attended 11 meetings with various local organisations and have been in correspondence with, amongst others, our MP, the Dept for Transport, the Planning Inspectorate, Defra and the Ramblers Association.
Also Rob Lawrence has reported 586 footpath problems, mainly to WCC and HC, in the nearly 2200 miles we have recorded walking.
When the Society was formed in 1973 it was with the aim of improving the very extensive footpath network and reducing the many serious footpath problems in and on the periphery of the Malvern Hills District. It was thought that by walking the footpaths the routes would be maintained and the problems would be reported. Later a Rights of Way Section was also formed to monitor and advise on legal changes to the footpath network.
By the early 1990s the Society was providing working parties which were installing about 40 pieces of PROW furniture a year. However, even by 1994 when I joined the Society, it was rare to do a 10 mile walk without coming across some impenetrable hedges, unclimbable stiles, missing footbridges and barbed wire. Today our obstruction problems tend to be far less challenging but the resources the Local Authorities have to deal with the very large backlog of obstructions and of proposed improvements are also very much reduced.
The points of this history lesson are that the Society was formed to walk, complain about and improve the footpaths in and near the Malvern Hills District. Today we still walk but do little to complain about or improve our, I repeat, our paths. You can help by offering to lead more walks within our District, by complaining more about the problems you find and by reporting them to Rob Lawrence. You could also help to influence changes to the PROW network by joining the ROW Section which for many years has had just four members.
Finally I suspect that many of you are not aware just where the District that our Society aims to look after starts and finishes. Due to various local government re-organisations, our District no longer mirrors that of the Malvern District Council but includes parishes in both Worcestershire and Herefordshire. For your information our parishes are shown on the display board map I brought along this evening.
Mike Everitt, Secretary, Rights of Way Section

Social Section’s Chairman’s Report
The past 12 months has seen a very busy social calendar in the life of the Society, not only events organised by the Social Section but Birthdays and Wedding Anniversary celebrations to which members were invited.  There have been two holidays, one fairly local in the Forest of Dean at Lindors Guest House near St. Briavels and the other on the Isle of Wight at the Eversley Hotel in Ventnor. The holiday to the Forest of Dean in May was enjoyable and relaxing with good food and accommodation. Riverside and forest walks usually culminated in a teashop. The first and last days walks were
near the Speech House and all other walks were close to the hotel. The holiday was well organised by Winn and David Dickason. The Isle of Wight holiday in early October was very successful with two walks each day, some coastal and some inland. There were also leisure walks and visits including to Carisbrook Castle and Osborne House. A Country Dancing Evening was led by Meryl and a talk arranged on another evening. With beautiful weather throughout and a lovely hotel, the holiday was much appreciated. A visit to Winchester on the return journey was a good finale to this six night break, ably organised by Lyn, Angela, Mike and Ivor. The Club Day Out in July was to Cardiff with something for everyone, long and short walks and self- guided exploration of the city, even a boat ride round the bay. Thanks are due to Sue Hood for organising this lovely day out. The Breakfast Walk was again at the Regents Conference Centre in West Malvern, with a lovely walk in the Mathon area and a plentiful breakfast afterwards. Due to popular demand, this event will be repeated this year on 15th June. There have been two skittles evenings during the last 12 months, both very popular andenjoyable. Liz and Jim Noon organised the Spring contest in March and Rita Lee the event in early November. Both were very well- organised and we hope to have another skittles evening later this year. The Christmas walk and lunch on 1st December was at the Bell at Broadheath with good food and a delightful walk partly along the river Severn. Sue Hood led the walk and has plans for another walk in the area later this year when we hope to book the pub again before Christmas as the venue has always been good. Mary-Rose organised the booking and we appreciate her ability in making sure it all ran smoothly. The Annual Dinner was also an excellent event, good food and service and a lovely venue. Ursula arranged the menu and bookings and thanks are due to her for such a successful event. The lunchtime meal proved very popular and something similar is planned for next year. The talk by Mark Wilkins from the Air Ambulance Trust on 15th February was informative and humorous. It is impressive how they are able to keep six helicopters in the air and the infrastructure on the ground on donations alone.
Sybil Heeks, Chairman, Social Section

Carol Service
Mike Everitt asked to remind everyone that the Carol Service will be held again this year, on Saturday 16th December, again at Severn Stoke Church

ELECTION OF OFFICERS AND COMMITTEE
Chairman                                                              Jeff Thorogood                                      Proposer Sue Hood                           Seconder Robin Waterhouse
Acting Vice-Chairman                                   David Swift                                              Proposer John Barr                            Seconder Sybil Heeks
Secretary                                                              Marguerite Barnwell                                                Proposer Terry Arnold                     Seconder Judith O’Leary
Treasurer                                                              Robin Waterhouse                             Proposer David Hughes                  Seconder Jeff Thorogood
Membership Secretary                               Robert Ashmore                                  Proposer Terry Arnold                     Seconder Jane Dutton
Walks Organizers:
Longer Saturday Walks                                John Tether                                            Proposer David Swift                                                Seconder Robin Waterhouse
Shorter Saturday Walks                              John Barr                                                  Proposer Sally Hart                            Seconder Anne Colwell
Midweek Walks                                                                        Betsy Brua                                                                        Proposer Jane Dutton                                             Seconder Roger Wicker
Midweek Leisure Walks                             Jane Dutton                                            Proposer Betsy Brua                         Seconder Jim Bullett
Extra Easy Walks                                               Jeff Thorogood                                      Proposer Lyn Everitt                                                 Seconder Jane Dutton
Newsletter and Walks Editor                  Jim Bullett                                                                       Proposer Roger Wicker                  Seconder David Swift
Website Manager                                           Jim Bullett                                                                       Proposer Angela Partridge           Seconder Sally Hart
Media Editor                                                      Anne Woods                                           Proposer Sybil Heeks                                               Seconder Anne Colwell
2 Elected Committee Members           Angela Partridge                                  Proposer David Swift                                                Seconder Steph Wren
Judith O’Leary                                       Proposer Lyn Everitt                                                 Seconder Sue Nuttall

Social Charity Report
I think most of you know that I have handed over the task of collecting for the Air Ambulance to Judith O’Leary as from the 1st January so this is my last report after 10 years.  I am delighted to report that my last year has been the best we have ever had.  There have been one or two very large collections and individual donations particularly on holidays and special occasions.  The total for the 12 months to 31st December was £1,144.23.  Added to this was over £100.00 which Mary Wicker collected from friends for her recent significant birthday in lieu of presents which she wished to be added to the Society’s total, bringing us up to well over £1200.00  Thank you very much indeed Mary. Judith will tell you how we are doing so far this year.  On her behalf can I repeat my usual plea - when Judith is not on a walk – she can’t be on every one especially now there are two walks on Saturdays - would someone please make the collections.  It doesn’t have to be the leader and as long as it’s done it keeps the momentum going. As usual I have a full record of money collected on individual walks should anyone wish to see it.
Lyn Everitt, previously Charity Collector

As the Charity Collector who has taken over from Lyn on 1st January I can report that since that date the Society members have contributed about a further £250
Judith O’Leary, Charity Collector

Walks Statistics - Beat This
For the year 1st March 2016 to 28th February 2017
(2 walks were cancelled due to their being insufficient numbers)
12 leisure walks with an average of                          18 members walking
8   extra easy                                                     14    "            "
40 midweek                                                     17    "            "
43 Saturday short walks                     15    "            "
49 Saturday Full walks                       12    "            "
This equates to 2267 members walking total of approx. 958 miles.
The main difference this year is due to the increase in Saturday shorter walks
Anne Colwell

Sue Hood
Sue wished to remind everyone present how important it is to remember that the founding principle of our Founder, Raymond Ward, was the aim of improving the very extensive footpath network and reducing the many serious footpath problems in and on the periphery of the Malvern Hills District.

Announcement of Chairmen and Secretaries of Sections
Rights of Way Section                                  Chairman Jim Noon                           Secretary Mike Everitt
Social Section                                                    Chairman Sybil Heeks                                              Secretary Jean Evans

Appointment of Auditor
Our Treasurer, Robin Waterhouse, reported that Alan Starkey has kindly agreed to act as our Honorary Auditor again this year
This appointment was agreed by acclamation

Chairman’s Remarks
Thank you all for electing me – I do appreciate the honour that you have given me
I can honestly say that as Secretary I’ve really enjoyed being at the centre of things these past two years, and I’m looking forward to being your Chairman in the coming three years – it’s important that we look for new blood, isn’t it?
If you are expecting changes, then I’m afraid I may disappoint you;   this is a truly splendid Society to which we are all most fortunate to belong - and on the basis that if it ain’t broke then don’t fix it, that’s just what I’m aiming to do – do you agree?
Publicity is going to be further developed and extended:  I feel that we have social a duty to our local society to tell them about ourselves and to encourage an uplift in our membership – money-wise you will have heard that we do need to get more members – do you agree?
Question – how many other Malvern people like me are there who have been walking the hills for a decade and a half and who have never heard of Malvern Hills District Footpath Society?  I’ll bet there’s lots of such people and it’s up to us to find them and get them into membership – do you agree?
I consider also that it’s important that we continue our original major raison d’etre by effectively keeping the local authorities on their toes with regard to all aspects of keeping our footpaths up to scratch (oops!):  there’s never ever going to be enough money to achieve everything, but we can be sure that if we don’t keep right on putting problems in front of the local decision-makers then lethargy will win and our footpaths will lose – do you agree
So, thank you – and one final request, please
The walks co-ordinators and the walks leaders do an absolutely splendid job of laying on a huge range of walks – and this is achieved with no little endeavour:   so, please do support them just as much as you possibly can and turn out for as many walks as you possibly can - we’ve all got an increasingly smaller number of walks days left haven’t we? so, don’t waste a single day: remember, once it’s gone it’s gone
Now our Social Committee have again gone to some trouble to lay on tea and coffee, so I’ll say thank you and now close this forty-fourth AGM of the wonderful Malvern Hills District Footpath Society
Jeff Thorogood, Chairman

AOB
Des Crook questioned the wording of part of the latest leaflet, and the Chairman asked him to write to the Secretary in order that his thoughts may be given consideration by the Committee, which Committee had previously unanimously approved the leaflet

 

The meeting was closed by the Chairman at 9.08pm and the Ladies of the Social Section kindly provided Tea and Biscuits

 

 

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