01 June 2016 by Walking Class Hero
Volunteers come in all shapes and sizes; young, old and all ages in between; different colours and creeds; men and women, boys and girls; those who can offer days and those who can only spare minutes and those who don’t even realise they’re volunteering.
Over 23 million people volunteer in the UK at least once a year and this contributes an estimated £23.9bn to the UK economy. Behind these big numbers is a big contribution. Over 25,000 people volunteer for the Ramblers. You don’t have to be a member to volunteer with us – indeed we estimate that nearly half of our volunteers aren’t. What we do know for sure is that the Ramblers would not exist without its volunteers and that we welcome and value every single one and every single contribution. And we like to give back in the way we know best by giving you the opportunity to volunteer in a way that suits you as well as offering programmes like Volunteer Development Days and online support through our Volunteer Toolkits.
Like other organisations and communities that rely on volunteers the Ramblers is celebrating Volunteers’ Week. Started in 1984 it gets bigger and bigger every year. For 2016 it runs from June 1 to 12 – so that’s a big week (very nearly a fortnight) to celebrate the big contribution of all volunteers across the UK.
The Ramblers offers over 45,000 led walks throughout the UK every year and every single one of these is led by a volunteer. (To see how varied our programme is check out our Go Walking information). But, of course our volunteering doesn’t stop there. You could be part of a campaign team. Or you could be doing research on Discovering Lost Ways and how to claim them before the 2026 cut-off date. Or you could lead a local health walk. If you fancy being a trustee read all about what that entails here. Really there are so many ways to get involved.
I was down in South Devon a month ago to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the John Musgrave Heritage Trail. The Trail is a 35 mile walking trail encompassing parts of Torbay, South Hams and Teignbridge. It was launched in March 2006 in memory of John Musgrave, former chairman of the Ramblers South Devon Group, whose generous legacy to the group on his death in 2003 has been used to fund the development of the trail. John was an enthusiastic walker, leading walks in many of the areas through which the trail passes.
Obviously John’s generous legacy was key to the establishing of the trail but just as important was the work done by the South Devon Ramblers in partnership with local organisations to bring to fruition a gloriously scenic and historically interesting walking trail reflecting the beauty and heritage of this wonderful area.
While we’re on the subject of legacies these are tremendously important to us at the Ramblers and the John Musgrave Heritage Trail is a marvellous example of how we can carry out the benefactor’s wishes with the help of local volunteers to make something meaningful and enduring. So…
Gandhi once famously said: “Be the change that you wish to see in the world”. So enjoy Volunteers’ Week and if you don’t already do so please give volunteering for the Ramblers a try in the next year. I think you’ll find it a lot of fun.