10th Birthday February 2013
The adage "From a little acorn a tall oak tree grows" usefully illustrates how Pocklington Group has flourished in a relatively short period of "Ramblers" history. Celebrating a 10th birthday, it is perhaps useful to remember how the group came to be formed.
In the autumn of 2002 Monica Isle on a Minster Way walk got into conversation with Ray Wallis, initially about car sharing. Dialogue moved on to there not being a Pocklington Ramblers and Ray planted the seed for Monica to kick off the momentum for creating a new group
Ray recalled that several earlier attempts to form a group were unsuccessful. During the 1980s there had been a Wolds and Derwent Group covering an area similar to the suggested Pocklington Group. Although initially vigorous, it lasted only a relatively short time. This does make the success of the present Group all the more impressive.
Monica's suggestion did not fall on deaf ears, as Ray talked to Peter Ayling, then Chair of Area Ramblers and the matter was raised at Area level meetings. Support for the proposal was given and funds for publicity allocated. A subsequent Area meeting congratulated the initiative and can be read by clicking Area Council.
On 30th Dec 2002, Ray and Peter were invited to Monica's home for a meeting of walkers interested in forming a group. Everyone no doubt looking forward optimistically to a happy walking New Year.
Meeting 30th dec 2003
A public meeting was organised for 21st Feb 2003 at Burnby Hall. Monica and colleagues distributed a flyer that Peter had produced. Fingers were crossed for a good attendance, expectations being high but aware that often a response can disappoint. If only 20 people had shown up it would have been regarded as a success.
Expectations were greatly exceeded. "Overwhelming - it was an amazing meeting" is how Peter Ayling describes the turn out. About 120 attended, many responding to the 1500 flyers that had been circulated but also through the personal drive of Monica and her colleagues. Ray Wallis gave a presentation on his "Minster Way Walk"
Forming a group gained full and instant support with interest concerning membership enquiries being sufficient to justify creating a Pocklington Ramblers Group.
Leading the Way
Members from neighbouring groups offered to lead walks and this assisted in providing a platform for developing a comprehensive programme. From the word go, walks were arranged for Wednesdays and weekends. Shorter walks, evening walks and monthly longer distance walks featured from the outset and continue today.
The Group's inaugural walk was from Warter on Sunday 2nd March 2003. Forty eight people turned out for the walk led by Pat Chapman [formerly Dunkley].
Note that in the newspaper article below reporting on the first led walk there is a request for Leaders. Ten years on and little changes, in that without volunteers Ramblers groups would struggle.
Between February and the first AGM in November 2003, rather than slowly evolving, the Group progressed at a break neck speed.
Getting individuals to join a committee can be a trial. However, enthusiasm of members was such that a Pocklington Committee was immediately established.
So who were the founding fathers? The Group's Newsletter No 1 of September 2003 [click here to read it] lists the committee as: -
Chairperson - Joan Wilson
Secretary - Kirsty Brooks
Treasurer - Neville Kirkpatrick
Rambles Secretary - Monica Isle
Footpaths Officer - Frank Challoner
Social Secretaries - David and Veronica Robinson
not listed but shown in AGM minutes - Paul Harris -
Monica, being absolutely committed to establishing a successful Group took on responsibility for Membership and Publicity. She developed a reputation for gently persuading members to assist – introducing a new word into our local vocabulary i.e. "Monica-ered" meaning arm-twisted; cajoled; shanghaied etc, but always in a charming, pleasant well intentioned style.
Countryside protection for ensuring public enjoyment is a fundamental objective of the Ramblers Association. Having Frank Challoner, with his wealth of experience of footpaths work elsewhere in the country, join the committee as Footpaths Officer was a bonus. This enabled survey of footpaths condition and identification of problems to immediately begin.
Foresight on how to interest and retain membership was apparent from day one by establishing Social Secretaries. David and Veronica Robinson successfully organised at least one event each month.
Such an initiative for social events, including walking weekends and holidays remains an important attraction for new membership.
Within months, a team of members completed the "Coast to Coast" walk and of course took a photograph as proof.
Initial membership was made up of those existing members residing in the former Wolds and Derwent Group geographical area. Successful recruiting resulted in numbers quickly reaching 100.
This number doubled within a couple of years.
Membership records show Neville Kirkpatrick, Steve Kendra and Paul Harris joining within days of the official launch. Pleasingly, all three continue to walk with the group.
Now with a computerised system, membership statistics are reliably up to date.
The group has consistently maintained win and briana total of 200 members.
Brian and Win Billings joined on 5th May 2003 and in doing so Win had the distinction of becoming the 2000th member of East Yorkshire and Derwent Area Ramblers
Regrouping - First AGM
Nine months following the public meeting to launch the group, Burnby Hall was again a venue, this time for the first AGM on 29th November 2003.
Member support was reflected by 50 people attending the event, an attendance that nowadays would delight any of our Groups.
To read the minutes of the meeting click AGM
You will see that Stan Thornton took over membership responsibility and Tony Ashbridge [future Chairman] became Auditor.
Where is the Founding Committee
It takes a lot for a "Rambler" to hang up their boots, but this is often influenced by wear and tear on joints, family and work commitments, competing leisure pursuits or simply availability of time.
So what are the first committee members now doing?
Joan Wilson - still a Ramblers member and also a U3A member
Kirsty Brooks - no longer a member but enjoys recreational walking
Neville Kirkpatrick - still a Ramblers member and a Walks Leader
Frank Challoner - still a Ramblers member plus U3A Walks Leader
David & Veronica Robinson - no longer members but enjoy recreational walking
Monica Isle - still a Ramblers member but currently incapacitated with a foot ailment
Stan Thornton - no longer a member – is a non walking member of U3A
Paul Harris - still a Ramblers member and leads Evening Walks
Achievements of the group by successive committees have been possible as a consequence of the tremendous drive, determination, innovation and commitment of the founding gang, ably supported by many unnamed and unsung members. Thanks to you all.
Let us look forward to the next decade and try to ensure the legacy left by our first committee and members continues to develop and thrive.