Des Garrahan, chair
Most of what I know of Britain I learnt through my feet – its heritage and culture, its dynamic urbanscapes and majestic countryside.
The Ramblers is a charity whose mission is enacted by its volunteers, supported by its members, enabled by its staff and governed by its trustees. The whole is much greater than the sum of its parts.
I have been a Ramblers member for 18 years, a volunteer for 17 years, I was on the staff for 10 years, I was elected a trustee at Ramblers general council 2012 and have the honour to be chair of the board since standing unopposed in 2015.
The character of this changing world where we strive to carry out our mission is indifferent to tradition, unforgiving of frailty, no respecter of past reputations and yet I believe it is full of opportunities to those swift to adapt, accepting of compromise, open, willing and able to change.
I need little reminding that I can walk the many miles of England & Wales’ footpaths and roam across acres of land in no small part because of the hard-won successes by the Ramblers. It is a tradition I am proud to build upon. I will continue to strive and do my utmost to ensure that in the 21st century the Ramblers remain:
The guardians of the footpath networks
The advocates of the right to roam
The protectors of the countryside
The champions of walking
I am often reminded of the John Schaar quote: “The future is not some place we are going to, but one that we are creating. The paths are not to be found, but made, and the activity of making them changes both the maker and destination.”
To find out more about me read my walking class hero blog or follow me on twitter @walkngclasshero or @ramblerdes
Christine Boston, vice chair
Currently, I lead on corporate policy for City of Cardiff Council, Wales’ largest unitary authority. In this role, I am responsible for the development of the corporate plan and ensure policy complies with duties placed on the authority. My main task is to ensure compliance with the well-being of future generations Act and am leading a project team to ensure cultural change across the council in line with the requirements of the Act.
Previously, I have led on policy and research for the Welsh charity, Chwarae Teg, which aims to help women can achieve and prosper. In this role, I led on a multi-award winning campaign ‘A Woman's Place’ and have been successful in influencing a number of key policy decisions. Knowledge and skills I bring to the Ramblers include equality and diversity, performance management and governance.
Alex Mannings, honorary treasurer
The Ramblers is vital to the protection of walking and I am proud to help them as the honorary treasurer of the Ramblers. I have worked in finance for 20 years including roles in both the public and private sectors and currently as indirect tax manager in a multi-national company. I have held various volunteer posts in the Ramblers prior to taking on my current role including chair of the Inner London area and of the London Strollers. With walking still the most popular hobby in the UK, I want to ensure that the Ramblers is the organisation that all walkers want to join. As honorary treasurer I will work hard to make sure that the Ramblers continues to thrive and has sound finances to carry out and increase it's important work. You can follow what I am doing with the Ramblers on twitter @LondonRamblers .
Previously a trustee for 30 years (1982-2012), twice chair, president for the last four years and now vice president of the Ramblers. I am general secretary of the Open Spaces Society, trustee of the Campaign for National Parks and patron of the Walkers are Welcome towns network. Read my blog at https://campaignerkate.wordpress.com/. Follow me on twitter @CampaignerKate
I joined the Ramblers in 2000 and shortly after became countryside secretary for my local group North Kirklees. In 2004 I was elected area countryside secretary for West Riding Ramblers, for which I am now also area chair. Alongside my work in finance for a multinational home shopping group, I also organise Ramblers promotional stands at agricultural shows in North and West Yorkshire and am a trustee of CPRE (Campaign to Protect Rural England) West Yorkshire branch.
I have been a member of Ramblers for about ten years and have served at group and area level within East Yorkshire and Derwent Ramblers for most of that time. I was recently elected as that area's chair.
Prior to my retirement I was a European sales manager for IBM.
A focus of my work will be to ensure that any decisions about governance are made based on a balanced proposal followed by detailed consultation. Above all else I am a very strong proponent of open and transparent democracy within our organisation.I will work hard for members and I will be a strong communicator with areas and groups and through them hopefully to all members.I believe that the most important part of Ramblers is our membership. We need to ensure that any changes are properly discussed and debated, primarily through our delegate, area and group structure.
Alison Mitchell, convener - Ramblers Scotland
I joined the Ramblers in Scotland over 30 years ago and have been supporting my local group, Grampian area and Ramblers Scotland since then as a walks leader, secretary and chair. My involvement has included serving on the Scottish Council Executive Committee for 25 years with 6 years as convener and 3 years as vice convener. For many years I have headed up a team organising the Scottish Ramblers gathering which has successfully brought members together for an annual weekend of walks
For ten years, from 2000 I was a Ramblers GB trustee and am currently tof the European Ramblers Association. My working life was spent in BT and the NHS in HR, training and finance management roles. As a volunteer for WRVS I have also served my local community. My interests also include the National Trust for Scotland and the John Muir Trust.
As a member and volunteer in the Ramblers for over 10 years, I am passionate about growing membership and raising the Ramblers’ profile in order to attract a more diverse audience.I am group chair of Capital Walkers, London’s fastest growing Ramblers group, which I was instrumental in creating. I have also been active at an area level as area secretary in Inner London and at a national level at Ramblers head office helping organise general council and supporting local groups.At a professional level I have 25 years’ financial experience in a multinational organisation. This will bring financial experience to the organisation and help with partnership development with corporate organisations.I feel my skills and passion will help the Ramblers to develop and modernise in the future
Alan Norton, chair, Ramblers Cymru
I joined Ramblers about 10 years ago after moving to Snowdonia National Park, with a view to getting some exercise, finding my way around and meeting like minded people. I very happily achieved all these. I started leading walks, then joined the committee, and subsequently volunteered to be group chair. Nowadays, I enjoy the walking, the environment and the company of other Ramblers even more, but feeling that we could do better in various ways, agreed to be nominated for WCEC in 2014, and I was then elected chair in April 2015.
My main interest is in people enjoying walking (and related social activities), enjoying the natural and built environment, enjoying the company of others, and, if possible, gaining satisfaction from “giving something back”.
I took my first walk with the Ramblers at the age of 14 and was immediately hooked – I’ll soon have been a member for 50 years. After taking early retirement as a senior civil servant I became area treasurer in Kent, then area secretary (which I remain) and board member from 2010. I was honorary treasurer from 2012 to 2015. I read natural sciences at university (including mathematics and physics but specialising in genetics) and my civil service career was varied, including training in accounting, law and business economics. At different times I was responsible for overseeing the tax compliance of the UK life insurance industry, running huge IT projects, building expert systems, advising Treasury ministers on tax policy, managing litigation involving over a billion pounds of disputed taxable profits and drafting parts of many finance bills. I still work part-time doing IT development and delivering tax training to financial advisers. I have co-authored The Kent Ramblers Guide to the Kent Coast Path: Part 1 which can be bought through the Kent Ramblers web site with all profits going to support the work of the Ramblers.”
I enjoy exploring Britain and the world through walking. I want to help people have the chance to discover Britain in the same way. My introduction to the wide variety of Ramblers work came through taking an active part in group and area activities having chaired group and area committees. I am passionate about increasing awareness of the Ramblers wide range of work in innovative ways and via our group walks. With a degree in business information systems, I have worked in business and technology service consultancies to deliver solutions, services and manage change to enable well-known companies provide their products and services. I hope to combine my love of walking with my business and technology expertise in my role as a trustee.
Natasha Clayton, interim chief executive
Natasha was appointed as interim chief executive in July 2016. She has extensive experience within the not for profit sector including time as chief operating officer and interim chief executive for Farm Africa, treasurer of Pesticide Action Network UK, programme director for Trade Aid Tanzania and work for Save the Children, Diabetes UK and The Princes Charities. Natasha qualified as a chartered accountant and worked for ten years in Leeds supporting a diverse range of both listed and private companies. A farmer’s daughter born in Yorkshire, she discovered the Isles of Scilly in 2014 and it has since become her favourite place to enjoy the outdoors on foot.
Vanessa Griffiths , chief executive (starting November)
Vanessa is currently assistant director, National Trust Wales. She is responsible for leading the Trust’s North Wales team of staff and volunteers who collectively look after Bodnant Garden, Chirk Castle, Erddig House and Parkland, Penrhyn Castle, Plas Newydd and parts of Snowdonia, Llyn and the Great Orme. The Trust is a charity, supported by over 4 million members, and its role is to care for these places so that they remain special and accessible, forever, for everyone. Before joining the National Trust, Vanessa worked for Groundwork, a social enterprise which works with disadvantaged individuals and communities to help them to improve their own lives - through the creation of green spaces, green jobs and green energy. Vanessa is a Fellow of the Royal Society and a business leader of the Marketing Society of Great Britain. She is married, with two children, and is a passionate walker.
Simon Barnett, director of delivery & development
Simon joined the senior management team in 2010. He oversees the Ramblers work to help more people go walking more often. This includes responsibility for Ramblers volunteers who lead walks, who develop and check walking routes and who make practical improvements to the path network. Simon has strategic responsibility for Walking for Health in England and for volunteering across the Ramblers - ensuring that all volunteers have a quality experience and enjoy their volunteering. Before starting at the Ramblers, Simon worked for Living Streets and prior to that was a local scheme coordinator for Walking for Health. Favourite places to walk include Dartmoor near where he grew up, the Chilterns which he now calls home, and the Lake District where he also fell races.
Christine Grant, director of services
Christine joined the Ramblers in August 2013. Following training as a chartered accountant, she has worked in finance and operational roles for almost 30 years. Her sector experience has been achieved within the accountancy profession, membership organisations, property, and education. Prior to joining Ramblers, she has worked at senior level in a number of trade unions, most recently at the Public and Commercial Services Union.
Nicky Philpott, director of advocacy & engagement
Nicky joined the Ramblers in September 2011. For the previous 12 years she worked at the NSPCC leading the campaigns team. She has also held campaign and policy positions at Age Concern, RNID, Scope, and Action with Communities in Rural England (ACRE). Nicky is committed to working with staff and volunteers to develop campaigns which preserve and increase access for walking. Nicky grew up in Somerset and her favourite walks are in the south west as near to water as possible as she likes to incorporate walking with a swim when she can.
Brendan Paddy, interim director of Scotland
Born and raised in New Zealand, Brendan grew up more outdoors than in. He graduated as a teenager from scout camps and forest strolls to multi-night and high level walks. Since moving to London 20 years ago he has visited most the UK’s national parks and wilder places. Brendan trained as a journalist in New Zealand and worked as a reporter at the Nelson Evening Mail. Since moving to the UK he has worked in media and communications for the Environment Agency, Amnesty International, Save the Children, Childline and Age Concern England. Until moving to Edinburgh in September, Brendan was the director of communications for the Disasters Emergency Committee. He holds an MSc in voluntary sector management from the LSE.
Jess Dolan, director of Scotland (currently on maternity leave)
Jess joins Ramblers Scotland following 8 years with Friends of the Earth (England, Wales and Northern Ireland), working in various roles to support local groups, engage supporters and developing engagement strategies for national campaigns. She also worked for RSPB in Scotland, managing a multi-million pound partnership project involving local authorities, statutory bodies and third sector organisations. Jess in a firm believer in the power of walking in green spaces to increase wellbeing and support better mental health. Favourite walks include the Yorkshire Three Peaks, the Great Glen Way and she will always have a soft spot for beautiful Arthur’s Seat in the heart of Edinburgh.
Angela Charlton, director Wales
Angela joined Ramblers Cymru in 2008, coming from her previous role as chief officer with a council for voluntary services. She has over 20 years experience in the voluntary sector, working across Wales, Shropshire and Gloucestershire. She has experience in community engagement in both the rural and urban environment context. Her previous roles cover environmental education, fundraising, project development and management, countryside management and walk leading. Angela is from South Wales and has a real passion to see the people of Wales have every opportunity to flourish in a sustainable way whilst meeting the needs of the people and the environment.