Chairman's Message
                              Group Chair's Report

We probably all joined the Ramblers for different reasons: perhaps to get fit,enjoy the countryside, support Ramblers’ campaigns or to make new friends etc.  I joined because I was doing a navigation award at the time and needed experience of leading a group.  Whatever the reason, we all have one thing in common: we are all volunteers.
We pay a subscription to Ramblers but we have to run our individual groups ourselves, and in order for that to happen we need volunteers.  We have volunteers on the committee, volunteer walk leaders and volunteers who help out in a variety of different ways with social events and other projects designed to promote the Group individually or Ramblers in general.  We cannot run our group without volunteers.
A number of project organisers have emailed the membership looking for volunteers for a number of different recent events, e.g. the John Hartley Memorial 21 Mile Challenge, the London Blind Walk and the Linslade Canal Festival.  For social events help is often
required with catering and a volunteer can often offer their home as a venue.
We have more than 120 members but our active membership is considerably less, so there isn’t a huge pool of volunteers out there.  The reason I am banging on about volunteering is that when these calls for volunteers arrive, it does usually tend to be the same people who always volunteer: i.e. committee members and a small number of stalwarts who come to most social events and walk with the group very regularly. 
Of course, we are all busy and lots of us have little spare time because of business or personal circumstances, or we might be on holiday or have principles that may prevent us from coming forward to support a particular event - that is completely understandable.  But I have been a little disappointed at the lack of significant response to some recent calls for help, e.g. the litter picking on 2nd June and our ongoing request for new walk leaders.  We also struggled for help with the Blind Walk until just a few days before the event, and of course every year there is usually stony silence when looking for new committee members to replace those retiring.
I am not trying to be the Big Bad Wolf here or singling anyone out; I just want to stress the point that the group does not run itself and we will always need volunteers to come forward in various
different capacities if we are to survive.  Having said that, I was greatly encouraged to see several of our newer members helping out at the Canal Festival and the Blind Walk and we do have one or two new walk leaders coming through. 
But we will always need new walk leaders and people to help out at events, and it would be fantastic to hear from some members who come forward less often.  If you are able to help, don’t leave it to the last minute.  It’s much less stressful for the organisers if you respond sooner rather than later! 
A huge thank you to everyone who does help out with the running of the group, however small that contribution may be.  We punch well above our weight for a small group:  let’s keep it that way.
Have a good Autumn/Winter.
Andrea Deeley, Group Chair