Chairman's News!



Chairman’s report for the AGM 2019

In my second year as chairman of Devon Area, I can confidently say that we have a thriving area organisation and very active, welcoming groups. This has been achieved by the dedicated inputs of all our volunteers in group and area committees and walk leaders, both past and present. We have an excellent web site which is well used and on which all our groups publish their walks, allowing national visibility.

Our Area Council has also had a busy and fruitful year. At the Area Council meeting on March 17th, we discussed feedback on the AGM, motions for General Council (subsequently held on April 7-8th April), walk leading and first aid training and membership. We also welcomed a new volunteer, Celia Minoughan, who has taken on the role of social media co-ordinator.

In April, we started to receive advice from Ramblers Central Office concerning the new general data protection regulations. This has proved to be something of a minefield regarding what measures we need to implement at Area and Group Level. Various guidance notes have been formulated and discussed widely.

I attended a meeting of South West Water’s Conservation, Access and Recreation Forum on the 19th June. At this meeting SW Water presented their latest forward planning for supply and demand. They are concentrating on reducing water usage and reducing leakage and do not anticipate any major new resource development in the foreseeable future. SW Lakes Trust informed the meeting of their latest recreation activities, providing 5 day residential courses for young people, as part of a national initiative. SW Water also gave a presentation on the latest work in combating invasive non-native species, which is a significantly growing problem.

Our August council meeting at the Phoenix Hall, Bovey Tracey proved an excellent venue. It was very well attended by group representatives and some lively discussions took place concerning membership issues and GDPR. We established that most groups have taken appropriate action on GDPR and we decided that no further action on the matter is currently needed. Our new social media co-ordinator had been very active in setting up new media initiatives that show much promise in bringing Ramblers work to a wider audience.

During October and November, I attended the AGM’s of the Tiverton group, South Devon group and South Hams group, which were all well organised. All the other groups’ AGM’s were attended by my fellow officers.

As part of the Dartmoor National Park Management Plan review process I was invited to join in a debate on Thursday 15th November 2018 to discuss the future vision for understanding and enjoyment on Dartmoor. The outcomes of this meeting were diverse and comprehensive and were put into the melting pot for DNPA to consider further.

We have had some excellent publicity this year including the East Devon group on the banks of the River Otter on Breakfast TV, Totnes and South Devon groups’ appearance on ITV at the new clapper bridge on the Western Wella Brook, above the Avon Dam and Exeter’s chairman, Les Grant, interviewed by BBC radio.       

Finally, we produced the new Devon Ramblers Highlights 2018, which, in my view is an excellent and succinct summary of our activities over the year.       

Professor Andrew Chadwick

Launching the Franklin Totnes Trail August 13th 2017