Sent to: all active volunteers who have registered on the Ramblers website.
23 March 2018
Since I last wrote to you we have had rather a lot of weather. Walking through our local woods last weekend the primroses were once again buried beneath a snowy blanket and the Great Spotted Woodpecker was unseasonably silent. We still managed to hold our board meeting last month, despite the blizzard. The trustees prepared for general council, approved our annual report and accounts, reviewed progress against our new business plan and discussed an exciting proposal to roll-out the current Scottish walk leadership pilot across all three nations over the coming years.
Staying with Scotland, I have just come back from Scottish council where I was inspired by some wonderful speakers including Ben Dolphin (Ramblers Scotland president), Grant Moir (CEO of Cairngorms National Park) and our own amazing group leaders who shared some of their successes, including the visionary work of Jay Wilson and the Inverness Ramblers to develop the John O’Groats long distance trail. Over the weekend Alison Mitchell (Convener of Ramblers Scotland and a trustee) and others, also took us on some fantastic circular walks around Aberdeen.
All those gathered at Scottish council were saddened to learn of the death of Jerry Pearlman, our former honorary solicitor for more than 30 years. Jerry fought countless campaigns on paths and access and often appeared in court and at public inquiries on our behalf. He helped to set legal precedent many times over, and he drafted the legislation which later became the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000. He served for 18 years as a member of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority. You can read more about his magnificent achievements for ramblers here.
Between Scottish council, our board meeting and the snow, I have continued to get out and meet more of our existing and potential partners. Over the last month I have been able to meet with Natural England and the chief executive officers of both the Sport and Recreation Alliance (SRA) and the Youth Hostel Association (YHA). We are members of the SRA along with 319 other organisations and our links with the YHA go back to our inception. In all three meetings we recognised we have a mutual interest in helping everyone to enjoy the outdoors on foot and agreed some shared next steps.
In staff news this month, I am delighted to be able to let you know that we will be joined next month by Rachael Bayley as our Interim Director of Delivery and Development. Rachael is a highly experienced leader who has made a significant positive impact in six major charities including heading volunteering development at Save the Children, the Samaritans and the Children’s Society. She is also a Director of the Association of Volunteer Managers – the professional membership body for volunteering. Rachael joins us on 6 April until the end of December 2018. I know you will join me in thanking Simon Barnett for all he has done for the Ramblers and in welcoming Rachael.
This month’s newsletter includes an opportunity to learn more our partnership with People’s Postcode Lottery which has recently provided our charity with an amazing financial boost. You can also find out about the winner of our first ever Britain’s Best Walking Neighbourhood Award and if you would like to take part in testing a new app as part of our data transformation programme please let us know. We really need your help in responding to the new government consultation which will shape the upcoming agriculture bill. We have produced a joint response (with the British Horse Society, British Mountaineering Council, Open Spaces Society and Cycling UK) to outline our support for protecting and enhancing countryside access and it would be great if you could sign the petition.
Other items in this newsletter include a further update, as promised, on General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and on the important public inquiry in Cambridgeshire which has just concluded. There are also items on some terrific recent path successes, on our Walk About festival this summer and on the Ramblers continued support for Walking For Health this year. It remains for me to wish you a very happy Easter holiday season, complete with your own version of Ken Dodd’s ocean tides, fading sunsets, stars above, fields of grain, falling rain, sunshine and love. I look forward to seeing some of you at general and at Welsh councils in April.
Vanessa Griffiths, chief executive officer
Phone: 020 7339 8578
People’s Postcode Lottery (PPL) - please find out more about our partnership here
As a charity, the Ramblers relies on much-valued income from a variety of sources including our members, supporters, corporate partners, trusts, and players of People’s Postcode Lottery (PPL). Players of People’s Postcode Lottery have supported the Ramblers since 2016 and our partnership has gone from strength to strength. Last year PPL invited the charity to become a society lottery operator, so we could benefit from 32% of proceeds from the draws promoted on our behalf. Other charities supported in this way include the Wildlife Trust, Woodland Trust, Canal and River Trust, Friends of the Earth and UNICEF, to name a few of the charities supported directly.
Support from players has raised more than £5m for the Ramblers in 2017 and 2018 (£2.5m per year). The Board of Trustees and senior management have carefully considered how to invest this income. We will continue in our ambition to build a country designed for walking - campaigning for access land and supporting path maintenance volunteers. We’ll invite more people to discover the benefits of walking through our festivals and short health walks. And we’ll be developing a walk leadership training framework to more fully support our incredible volunteer walk leaders. Furthermore, over the next two years, we’ll be transforming the charity’s digital capabilities to provide volunteers and staff with new tools, data and intelligence to deliver and measure lasting impact. We look forward to sharing more about these programmes with you over the coming months.
Britain’s Best Walking Neighbourhood Award - please congratulate the winner!
The votes are in for our first ever Britain’s Best Walking Neighbourhood Award!
Congratulations to Hastings Old Town, which topped the list, with 21% of the 12,000 votes. Thanks so much for your support in promoting the award and helping us make a really strong case for the importance of designing neighbourhoods with walkers in mind.
Nominations are now open for next year’s award, so please do get in touch if you’d like to nominate your neighbourhood.
This award was the first step in our Paving the Way campaign, highlighting neighbourhoods with well-connected networks of walking routes, accessible green spaces, and well-designed walking infrastructure. Our vision is for all of Britain’s towns and cities to put pedestrians first. To achieve this aim we will be releasing our Walking Charter soon and we will need your support to encourage as many local councillors across the country to sign up to it. We have produced a toolkit for you to use when contacting your councillors ahead of the local elections in May and we will also be also be sharing this with you in April.
The agriculture bill white paper was recently published – please sign our petition
The government has launched a consultation on its proposals for the future of food, farming and the environment. This will shape the upcoming agriculture bill, which is due to be published this summer. Agriculture accounts for 70% of UK land, meaning that much of our path network runs through farmland. The new policy will have a significant impact on the quality of our environment, and the future of access to the countryside.
The Ramblers have teamed up with the British Horse Society, the British Mountaineering Council, the Open Spaces Society, and Cycling UK to protect the future of countryside access. We will each be providing a response to the consultation, but we know that many of our supporters and volunteers would like to respond aswell.
We have produced a joint response, outlining our support for protecting and enhancing access to the countryside. Please do sign our petition to add your name to this response, and share it with friends, family and fellow outdoor users. We will submit the petition to the government at the end of the consultation in early May to show public support for protecting countryside access.
In related news our policy officer Stephen Russell was interviewed earlier this week by BBC Breakfast for a feature on the future of the natural environment and the importance of the path network. This was a fantastic opportunity to highlight our work on the value of paths and future opportunities for better access under a new agricultural policy. A BBC News version of this story is available here. This was in response to a new report from a House of Lords Select Committee inquiry that took place last year, to which we gave oral evidence. Further information on this can be found here.
General Data Protection Regulation - please note the new guidance
Data transformation - please let us know if you would like to help us with some testing
Walk About festival 26 May to 3 June - please prepare your hidden gems
Walking for Health - please note the Ramblers continued support for this programme
As I am sure you are aware, for the past six years the Ramblers has run a successful Walking for Health programme in England, in partnership with Macmillan Cancer Support. As outlined in the January newsletter, the current programme finishes at the end of March this year. However, national support will continue to be provided to local schemes from April to December 2018, through funding from the players of People’s Postcode Lottery and Macmillan Cancer Support.
From April to December the newly restructured short group walks staff team will support local Walking for Health schemes to maintain quality standards, train those who deliver local short group walk leadership training, communicate with local schemes (through webinars, teleconferences, phone and email), encourage local schemes to foster learning and partnership working and develop relationships between schemes and local Ramblers groups.
Network Rail Cambridge - please note the progress on this important public enquiry
New path in Kent and path realignment in Cumbria - please note these successes
The Ramblers have collaborated with other bodies in Faversham, Kent to help to create a new creek-side public path, which is both direct and convenient. There is already a spectacular path further out-of-town along Faversham Creek, but for many years the “first bit” on walking out of the town has been obstructed by a new residential riverside development, which has meant that walkers have had to walk through an industrial estate, rather than by the creek. After lobbying, Kent County Council made the order to create the path, but a small number of objections to the new path led to a public inquiry, which has gone in favour of the path. Ian Wild of the Ramblers testified in the path's favour: other collaborators were Faversham Footpaths Group, Swale Footpaths Group, and two local charities (Bensted’s Charity and Faversham Municipal Charities) along with Faversham Town Council and Swale Borough Council. The resulting walk is now a high-quality walking experience, with great views over Oare Marshes, a pleasing maritime-heritage feel, reed-warblers, hen harriers and waders of many kinds…and the Shipwrights Arms - a delightful and unspoiled pub - at the end.
Area induction training - please let us know if you would like to attend future courses
Over the past few months the area support team has been running area induction training in England, Scotland and Wales. The training provides new area chairs and secretaries with an overview of the work of the Ramblers and includes meeting many of the staff team and finding out more about how staff and area volunteers can mutually support each other to deliver our shared remit. It is also an excellent opportunity for area chairs and secretaries to meet colleagues from other areas and share best practice together. If you are interested in attending training (even if you are not a new area chair or secretary, numbers permitting, we welcome anyone who would like to network and enjoy refresher training) please contact your area support officer:
Ramblers Cymru - please note the new date for Welsh council and access update
Welsh council was unfortunately postponed due to bad weather, but with the support of WCEC and the Ramblers Cymru staff team, it will now take place at the later date of Saturday 28 to Sunday 29 April 2018.
Ramblers Scotland - please note this new BBC documentary
A huge thank you to all the volunteers who helped make Scottish council in Aberdeen such an uplifting event on 10 and 11 March. More than 100 members attended – and it was a great opportunity to hear about the work of volunteers across the country, during a range of workshops and talks. Our president Ben Dolphin gave an inspiring Dick Balharry Memorial Lecture on the Saturday night; using his photography skills to guide us all on a ‘virtual walk’ from summit to valley – while discussing the subtle changes in geology, flora and fauna along the way. We’re very grateful to Cairngorms National Park CEO Grant Moir for sharing his honest and insightful thoughts during a lively Q&A with our director Jess Dolan on the Sunday. Meanwhile, five interesting motions were debated this year, and draft minutes will be published on our website this spring.