MINUTES OF THE FORTY-FIFTH
ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING OF THE
MALVERN HILLS DISTRICT FOOTPATH SOCIETY
Held at Lansdowne Church Hall at 7.30pm
On Wednesday 28th March 2018
The Chairman welcomed the 47 people present to the 45th Annual General Meeting of the Society.
APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE
Apologies were received from John Allsop, Desmond Crook, Jane Dutton, Lyn Everitt, Mike Everitt, Sally Lindsey, Liz Noon, Hilary Thorogood, Janet Whittlestone, Robin Whittlestone, Anne Wood, Jacquiline Hollis, Eric Hollands and David Hughes
MINUTES OF THE PREVIOUS ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING
Jim Bullett proposed and Eugene Colwell 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 matters arising from the previous Minutes.
Reports were received from the officers of the Society and are summarised below.
I knew the Society’s committee worked hard but it wasn’t until I became secretary that I realised quite how hard. When I introduced McVities Digestives to go with coffee at the bi monthly meetings, they suddenly became even more efficient. A number of long standing committee members are standing down this year and new members will be joining us, they look a tougher lot and so I may have to up my game. We do work hard - looking after member’s interests and hopefully doing what is best for the club now and in the future, but, We are only human and very occasionally we make mistakes, and should this happen, I would ask you to be kind to us after all, we are all volunteers.
I am sure that most of you are aware by now that in May of this year new Data Protection legislation comes into force and even though we are a small independent walking club, this affects us. As you came in tonight you will have been handed a letter which hopefully explains, in a way we can all understand, what this means for the Society and what we have to do to comply. In a nutshell, we have to tell you what information we hold on you and what we do with it. I would ask you to do one of 2 things with the letter and Consent Form.
1. Sign the Consent form and hand it to Judith. The letter and second copy of the Consent Form are for you to keep. 2. Take the letter and Consent form home to read later with your hot chocolate and post one copy of the form back to me or hand it to one of the committee when you are walking. I know you would all like a third option which includes the use of a bin, but I am afraid this is not possible. If we don’t have a signed form back from you by 25th May legislation says that we are not allowed to communicate with you anymore. This means we can’t post the walks programme to you. This in turn will mean that there will only ever be 3 people on every walk, me, Jeff and Judith and I think after a while we might get fed up of each other, so it’s in yours and definitely our, interest for you to return the form.
Read by Allan Barnwell
I am pleased to submit for your approval the Statement of Income and Expenditure for the year ending 31 January 2018, which has been approved by our Auditor, Alan Starkey, has been considered by your Committee and has been made available for your consideration this evening, along with a bit more supporting detail. Whilst we are running at a deficit year-on-year, we have a healthy bank balance, so this position is sustainable for the time being. The accounts were approved by acclamation.
Robin Waterhouse, Treasurer
Membership Secretary’s Report
The number of members currently paid-up for this year stands at 156
The number of members paid-up for last year totalled 141
The reason that the membership number is greater than at this point last year is because the trial of allowing members to pay their yearly subscription by bank payment has proved to be successful and will be continued.
Robert is standing down from the committee and the Chairman thanked him for his efforts on behalf of the Society over the past few years.
Saturday Longer Walks Report
At the AGM last year John Tether volunteered and was elected as Longer Saturday Walks Organiser, and John, after discussion with the committee, set out to include a selection of walks rather farther afield than had previously been the case for Longer Saturday Walks. As you may know these walks had previously been often located within the Malvern Hills District. John’s farther-afield approach proved to be highly popular with the happy band of Longer Saturday Walkers, and at a subsequent committee meeting it was fully agreed, with but 1 contrary vote, that in future there would be no pressure applied to the walk leaders as to where they chose to start their walks. Unfortunately, for personal reasons John had to resign as Longer Saturday Walks Organiser at short notice in the autumn. I picked up the baton and am most grateful for the ready support of the regular Longer Saturday Walkers for their help in completing the remainder of the July to October period and then the November to February programme. As a result we had a Longer Saturday walk every single Saturday, bar one the other week which had to be cancelled because of the unkind snow. I am now delighted that John O’Loghlen and David Swift have agreed to take over jointly as Longer Saturday Walks Organisers, and I am pleased to report that they already have in place many walks for the July to October period.
The Chairman paid tribute to John Tether for his contribution to the Saturday Long Walks programme during the early part of the year.
Saturday Shorter Walks Report
The well supported Saturday Short Walks have become an established addition to the MHDFS walks’ programme. This year we have been able to provide an alternative walk every Saturday albeit that some have had to be cancelled due to inclement weather, this winter in particular proving to be excessively severe.
As my knees no longer enable me to maintain the walk pace, I am reluctantly having to give up the role of Saturday Short Walks coordinator. So in closing I would like to thank all those club members who have supported me by agreeing to help fill the walks’ programme without whose input there would be no Saturday Short Walks. I’m confident that you will provide my successor the same support that you gave me. And don’t forget the MHDFS mantra: never walk in front of the leader.
The Chairman thanked John for his efforts on behalf of the club over the past few years.
Mid-week Walks Report
Once again, the club has had a very busy year with a full mid-week walks programme. For midweek walkers, there has been a range of walks to choose from: Very Easy Walks, Leisure Walks, Special walks that accompanied events such as birthday teas, as well as 32 regular mid-week walks. Only 3 cancellations occurred, due to poor weather or conditions underfoot. Walks took place locally as well as further afield, and walks often exceeded 20 members. Even the mid-week train trip to Birmingham with a canal walk proved popular again this year.
Thank you to the 28 members who volunteered to lead the mid-week walks. As everyone knows, I am stepping down as mid-week walks coordinator to take up another post within the club. I hope that club members will continue to come forward to support my replacement.
Mid-week Leisure Walks Report
Many thanks to all our members who volunteered to lead leisure walks over the last year. We have had the opportunity to take part in many interesting and informative leisurely rambles around the Malvern area and beyond. Leisure walks have taken place as far afield as Apperley as well as more local walks around Madresfield and Bastonford.
Unfortunately, due to circumstances beyond anyone’s control, this year three of our leisure walks had to be cancelled at short notice. Hopefully, these walks may reappear in the 2018/19 walks’ programme.
Overall the leisure walks continued to be well supported, even when they were some distance from Malvern.
An interesting note. When sorting through the Leisure Walks’ file I came across a letter written in 1988 requesting support from members to lead leisure walks. It also referred to the fact that the MHDFS Leisure Walks had first started in 1986. I think many members have enjoyed walking many, many leisurely miles over the last 32 years!
Read by Jeff Thorogood
Jane is standing down from the committee and the Chairman thanked her for her efforts over the past few years and pointed out that the Leisure Walk Programme will in future be merged with the Extra Easy Walk programme.
Extra Easy Walks Report
There has been a full programme of extra easy walks. Leaders have been imaginative and we have started and finished at a variety of hostelries. I would like to thank very much everyone who has lead a walk and those who have come along to enjoy a walk and refreshment
Website and Publicity Report 2018
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 Malvern', another I think is 'All About Worcester', and lots more.
We have our own web site, allowing us to reach out to the wider 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, decided to try us out. Through the web site we can keep the members and public right up-to-date with the latest news and changes. In fact, any time that cancellations or alterations need to be made to the Walks Program, if details are received in time, these can be made known to all readers who are willing to check the pages for last minute up-dates.
Some good news is - that the web site is coming under new management. Very soon now the web site will be handled by Ms Siani Morris, who I am sure will offer a fresh approach with perhaps new ideas, and bring new expertise to the job.
Another important media for publicising last minute updates, is that of email. Now, with the new legislation meaning we have to rebuild our email database to comply with the law, it is a good opportunity for everyone with email to grasp the nettle, allow us to use your email address, and join the 21st century.
Another big advantage of being on the email list is the receipt of the Newsletter/Walks Program via your mailbox, apart from the occasions when the chairman sends every member a printed copy
In the public domain we are still putting out lots of colourful leaflets. It is attracting new members to swell our ranks. A4 posters also are being placed in public areas such as Doctor's and Dentist's surgeries, Public Libraries, Post Offices and so on, and we have produced folded leaflets which are placed into Tourist Information Centres.
Here are the latest boring statistics for our website www.mhdfs.org.uk
All figures are the average per month for 2017:
Average visits to the site were: 2,100
Average pages read were: 3,561
Average hits (clicks) were: 9,837
That is about the same number of visits to the web site as 2016, Notably, there were a lot of visits from the USA.
Thank you Ladies and Gentlemen.
Newsletter/Walks Program Report
Mr Chairman, Ladies and Gentlemen, a report on the walks program.
Over the last 12 months, through the dedicated efforts of our walks organisers, there has been a full program of walks to suit most members. All walks details are now reaching me by email, which makes the job of compiling much easier than when I often received details written on scraps of paper.
The Saturday long walks have varied in length from 8 miles to 12 miles, with a good selection of shorter walks options. This means that people can choose to walk within their capabilities on a regular basis.
The weekday walks vary in length from 3-6 miles with the leisure walks and extra easy walks now merging.
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 at the moment.
Please remember that walk leaders need to have your walk details handed to them - at the latest - two months before the end of the current period.
The Newsletter, with its new format, new high-quality printing and in colour too, is a great success, being liked by everyone, so please don’t be shy, do send in any articles you think would be of interest to our readers. If you cannot email it to me, you can hand a written report to any committee member for them to pass it on.
Thank you, Ladies and Gentlemen.
The Chairman thanked Jim on behalf of the members for all the work he has put into running the Newsletter and Website over the past 15 plus years.
RIGHTS OF WAY SECRETARY’S REPORT
1. Mike apologies for his absence but he is in Yorkshire surveying walks planned for the Society holiday in September.
2. The routine work of the Section continued last year and we held four Section meetings in which we reviewed 130 planning applications and 35 legal orders. Also during the year we reported 576 problems on the footpath networks whilst walking an estimated 2490 miles. In addition Mike has attended several meetings with local organisations including Worcestershire County Council, Herefordshire Council, the Ramblers Association and has corresponded with Defra and the Planning Inspectorate.
3. Successes during the year have included getting a couple of new paths added to the legal map through creation agreements, influencing the routes of some paths that were having to be diverted for planning reasons and getting timely vegetation clearance carried out on a few overgrown paths that were on the Society’s imminent walking programme.
4. At last year’s AGM Mike reminded you of the primary reason our Society was set up in 1973. This was to improve the very extensive footpath network and reduce the many serious footpath problems in and on the periphery of the Malvern Hills District. While the footpath network has improved immensely since 1973 there is still much to do. However we seem to be walking more and more outside the Malvern Hills District, eg approximately every other long walk last year, and relatively few members bother to report problems. Thus many of the more than 550 footpath complaints we did raise last year were not contributing to the Society’s original aim. The Society has always scheduled some walks outside the Malvern Hills District but the annual number of out-of-area long walks appears to have nearly doubled in the last 10 years whilst the number of regular long walkers seems to be reducing.
5. Our District is quite large stretching from Tewkesbury in the south to north of Tenbury and nearly from Hereford to east of Kempsey. It offers a good variety of countryside, some areas we rarely visit and many paths we never tread. Thus the Section would like to encourage you to generally plan more walks in or very near to our District. The Society has a wide selection of walks with maps and descriptions, for example Adopted and Boundary walks. Moreover Mike is always willing to devise walks and help survey them if you need something else. After all we claim to be a Footpath Society and not just any old Walking Club so let us try to live up to the name.
Read by Eugene Colwell in Mike’s absence
SOCIAL CLUB COMMITTEE REPORT
The Social Section has arranged many events during the last 12 months with help from other members of the society.
There have been two holidays, one in May travelling by coach to Grangeover Sands in the southern Lake District, ably organised by Jeff Thorogood. In late Autumn there was a four night break in Llandrindod Wells staying at the Metropole Hotel and travelling in members’ own cars. This was organised by myself but with much help from other members, especially in leading walks.
There was a Breakfast Walk in mid June at the Elim Centre in West Malvern and the Club Day Out on 24th June was to Stratford upon Avon, with walks partly along the river Avon from Alcester or Welford on Avon.. Thanks to Liz and Jim Noon for organising the day.
In September, there was a Treasure Hunt and Quiz at Ledbury with tea and cakes provided by the ladies from Mathon W.I. A Skittles evening in October was very popular and well - organised by Rita Lee. Hopefully another will be arranged for later this year.
The Christmas walk and lunch in December was again at the Bell at Broadheath with thanks to Winn and Sue for their help in making this an enjoyable day.
Another lovely social event was the Annual Meal in January this year held at the Worcester Golf Club. This was very well- organised by Hilary and she has agreed to organise a similar one next year which will be held in the evening.
On the 7th March there was a talk entitled “Canals in the Landscape” presented by Tony Conder. The talk and the homemade cakes were much appreciated by members.
Events organised by other members of the society were a very memorable celebration of Frank Chester’s 100th birthday, other birthday teas and a guided tour of Madresfield Court.
During the coming year, on the 20th June there is a walk followed by visit to Perrycroft gardens. The Club Day Out on June 23rd is to Bath, with a guided tour of the city on offer or a walk entitled the Skyline Walk and holiday in Harrogate has been arranged in late September, travelling by coach and arranged by Jeff..
I would like to thank members who have retired from the section during the last 12 months; Meryl Cochrane, Anne Colwell, Sue Hood, Mary Rose Hughes and Ursula Voisey. They have all worked for many years to help organise events for the society. We would welcome more people to help with the Social Section in the future. If you would like to come along to meetings of the section, please do let me know. All offers of help will be much appreciated.
Sybil is standing down as Chairman of the Social Section and the Chairman thanked her for her efforts on behalf of the Society over the past 15 plus years.
He pointed out to the meeting that in future the Social Section will be adopting the slightly unusual system of whoever hosts the meeting of the Social Section will be Chairman of the Section for that meeting.
Over the last year I have continued to put walk details onto the Malvern Gazette and also into the 'all about' magazine. I have also dropped in a copy of the walk programme to Malvern Tourist Information Centre'. As far as I am aware this has generated the occasional new walker to try us out
Read by Jeff Thorogood
Anne Woods is now standing down from the Committee and the Chairman asked if anyone present was willing to take on her duties. Unfortunately no-one volunteered.
Meryl Cochrane put forward a motion that all of the reports be adopted, Sue Hood seconded this.
ELECTION OF OFFICERS AND COMMITTEE
Post Officer Proposer Seconder
Chairman Jeff Thorogood Sybil Heeks Jim Bullett
Vice-Chairman David Swift Beverley Shrubb
Secretary Marguerite Barnwell Sue Hood Sheila Hallows
Treasurer Robin Waterhouse David Swift Mary Rose Hughes
Membership Secretary Betsy Brua Jeff Thorogood Robin Waterhouse
Data Protection Officer Marguerite Barnwell Jeff Thorogood Robin Waterhouse
Longer Saturday Walks ( John O’Loghlen
(Shared Post) ( David Swift Allan Barnwell Betsy Brua
Shorter Saturday Walks Margaret Ponsonby Maggie Whitton Anne Colwell
Midweek Walks Rita Lee Terry Arnold John O’Loghlen
Extra Easy Walks Allan Barnwell Sybil Heeks Sue Hood
Newsletter Editor Jim Bullett David Swift Meryl Cochrane
Website Manager Siani Morris Robert Ashmore Terry Arnold
Press Liaison Officer
David Swift agreed to have the word ‘Acting’ removed from his title.
A big ‘thank you’ to everyone who contributed their spare change to the Air Ambulance collection during our walks throughout 2017. Thanks to your generosity, at the end of the year I was able to send Air Ambulance a cheque for £977.15.
It may seem like a drop in the ocean in relation to their annual running costs but they were very grateful and we should all be very proud to be supporting such a wonderful organisation.
WALKS STATISTICS REPORT
For the year 1st March 2017 to 28th February 2018
(10 walks were cancelled - mainly due to bad weather)
6 leisure walks with an average of 15 members walking
12 extra easy walks " " " 12 " "
38 midweek walks " " " 13 " "
50 short Sat, walks " " " 17 " "
49 full " " " " " 11 " "
This equates to 2143 members walking a total of approx. 1028 miles.
There's no doubt that the shorter Saturday walks continue to be very well supported and help to keep the membership up.
Thanks to John for securing so many 'willing' leaders!
ANNOUNCEMENTS OF CHAIRMAN AND SECRETARIES OF SECTIONS
Rights of Way Committee – Jim Noon (Chairman), Mike Everitt (Secretary), Eugene Colwell
Social Section – This Committee will have a rotating Chairman, whoever is hosting the meeting will be the Chairman for that day.
APPOINTMENT OF HONORARY AUDITOR
Alan Starkey has once agreed agreed to be Honorary Auditor next year. Robin Waterhouse proposed this appointment and John O’Loghlen seconded this motion.The Chairman asked Robin to give him a bottle of wine as a thank you.
Thank you all for coming this evening - and my especial thanks to those many members of our Society who have contributed to the running of the Society these past 12 months – and especially the Social Committee and Walks Organizers and Walks Leaders
You have now heard their reports, all of which necessarily look back over the past year
Now, I want to look forward – as agreed last year, my final two years on the Committee
In large measure the original aims of Ray Ward and his colleagues I believe have been and are being mostly achieved; these days we are once again walking lots of miles, which of course is the essence of the Society: but we do need to keep up our reports to the local authorities about faulty stiles, defective waymarkers and so on.
Surely, we just don’t need to blast our local authorities with enormous numbers of reports, we just need to focus on things that properly and necessarily and reasonably require attention. After all they are small units with other responsibilities operating with limited resources and limited cash. For instance, on Jane’s walk this morning I could find absolutely nothing worthy of reporting – all the paths were clear, the waymarks were helpful and accurate, the stiles and kissing gates were all in fine fettle. So, thanks Ray, you and your colleagues should be proud of what you have achieved for the benefit of all of us these days
In this matter we are very fortunate. May I draw all Walks Leaders, and indeed all Walkers’, attention to the excellent work being done by Rob Lawrence on RoW in getting problems notified to the authorities; I can personally vouch for Rob’s effectiveness. So the next time that you find faults on your walk please go home and right away get in touch with Rob; you’ll find Rob very helpful - and we really do need now to be much more active all of us in getting these reports, as we find them, submitted to the authorities
And while we are talking about walks, please don’t just wait for the hard-working Walks Organisers to have to ask you to lead a walk: get in there early and be amongst the first to book your dates. Please, it is your Society
Now you will have seen from Robin’s reports that amongst other things the Social Committee organised 7 excellent events in the past 12 months, together with the delightful holiday to Llandridnod Wells – all of which were splendidly organised and all of which broke even – actually 1 made a very small profit
May I, similarly to volunteering early for leading walks, ask that just as soon as you receive your Newsletter/Walks Programme, which I’m delighted to tell you is from now on going to be mailed in top-quality colour simultaneously to every membership household, (colour copying costs have fortunately dramatically dropped in price to allow this) that you make your decisions and get your forms in to the Organiser right away, without delay: incidentally, have you booked for the Birthday Lunch and the Day Out to Bath yet? after all doing this early-on is only fair to the Organisers, isn’t it? And the Social Committee really does need some new people - which means in these days of equality, gentlemen, you will be made most welcome
The Grange-over-Sands holiday last year was well-subscribed and we have 36 people going to Harrogate in September: on 12th May 2019 we are booked to go again to the excellent Membly Hall Hotel in Falmouth and as that will be my third and last holiday as Organiser, we need someone to come forward now for 2020. Yes, to get suitable bookings we really do need to book a minimum of 18/24 months ahead – if we don’t, we won’t
Back to looking forward, the Society is very different these days to how it was in its heyday, when there was a membership of 350, twice as many as we have these days. The Working Parties ceased many years ago. The Mapping Section finally slipped into oblivion a few years ago, and when Mike stops we must expect Rights-of-Way to largely cease to exist, except for Rob Lawrence and his successors
So it’s no good burying our heads in the sand and wishing that MHDFS is today what it was in the past, because it really just isn’t; you know, in life there used to be 2 certainties, Death and Taxes, but over the last few decades there’s arisen a third certainty, and that is Change
And that means that I will be looking for your support in making those changes that we now all absolutely have to agree to, together, to get MHDFS successfully and happily reset in this competitive world to take us through towards our half-century
My best thanks and regards to you all,
Jeff Thorogood, Chairman
ANY OTHER BUSINESS
As she didn’t have a chance to put an article into the Newsletter, on behalf of Lyn Everitt, Rita passed on her thanks to everyone who attended the carol service in December of last year. The retiring collection raised £175 for St Deny’s Church.
The carol service will be held on 8th December this year at a slightly earlier time of 2.45pm.
Ann asked for a note to be put into the next issue of the newsletter reminding members who have lifts from Imperial Road to contribute 10p per mile towards the journey.
THE MEETING CLOSED AT 8.40 PM AND TEA AND COFFEE WERE SERVED BY MEMBERS OF THE SOCIAL COMMITTEE