Recognising volunteer achievements

Mike Slater accepts the Campaigner Award

Mike Slater from the Isle of Wight Ramblers accepts the Campaigner Award from President Kate Ashbrook

The President’s Volunteer Awards were presented at General Council at the weekend to highlight the hard work and celebrate the successes of our volunteers in all things walking.

The awards, which were presented by Ramblers President Kate Ashbrook, were given to individual volunteers and small groups as well as to regional and local Ramblers for achievements including carrying out path maintenance, leading walks and campaigning on walking issues.

“We introduced the awards to recognise volunteers who have gone above and beyond to deliver our mission” said Ed Wilson, Ramblers Volunteer Support and Development Officer. “The winners are an inspiration to us all to strive to do more for walkers everywhere.”

We received nominations from across England, Scotland and Wales which were shortlisted down to three contenders per category by Kate Ashbrook before being voted on by delegates at General Council itself.

A full list of the winners can be found below however a special mention should be made of the Isle of Wight Ramblers who won no less than four awards. Congratulations to all the winners and nominees and thank you to all our volunteers for your on-going efforts!

Winners of the President’s Volunteer Awards 2013

Footpath Award – Isle of Wight Ramblers

The Isle of Wight Ramblers’ ‘Donate a Gate’ scheme replaces stiles to improve access to rights of way Over the last three years £24,000 has been donated to install 58 gates along 15 stretches of IOW footpaths.

Countryside Award – Isle of Wight Ramblers

The Isle of Wight Ramblers campaigned to protect woodlands on the island and for planning applications for wind turbines in inappropriate locations to be rejected. This resulted in a U-turn on woodlands sales and, to date, no large wind turbines have been approved on the Island.

Access Award – Brian Panton, Dorset Ramblers

Brian successfully worked with Natural England and Dorset County Council to open the first section of the England Coast Path in Weymouth. Brian is now continuing this role on the second stretch to be opened in Dorset.

Practical Maintenance Team Award - REACT (Cornwall Ramblers)

The Cornwall Ramblers’ path maintenance team REACT (Ramblers Environmental Action Clearance Team) has worked closely with the local authority over the last couple of years, saving it the equivalent of £42,000. They helped reopen a network of paths near Liskeard.

London Strollers on MeetupBest Original Recruitment Award – London Strollers

The London Strollers have used innovative techniques like listing their walks on the social networking site Meetup (pictured right). They have gained several members through this and are advertising the Ramblers to new people.

Best Walks Programme Award - Gerald Turner, John O'Donoghue, Anne Pullinger, Gaynor Ross, John Plympton, Linda Rowland, Dave Gibbs, Liz Witham and Maz Viveash, Farnham Ramblers

The Farnham Ramblers have an extensive and varied walk programme. Distances range from two miles to 11+ miles and there are walks nearly every day. They led 425 local walks last year and expect to lead over 475 this year.

Led Walks Award – North Herts Ramblers

The North Herts Ramblers popular walks include long and short traditional Sunday walks, dog-friendly walks, walks with a pub stop and photographic walks. The walks are mainly circular, with some linear walks using the bus or train for the return journey.

Ron GordonBest Individual Achievement Award – Ron Gordon, Liverpool Ramblers and Merseyside and West Cheshire Ramblers

Ron (pictured right) joined the Ramblers in 1946. Besides his formal committee roles, Ron always loved leading rambles and is famed for his local knowledge. Ron has coached many walk leaders, passing on his extensive map reading and navigational skills.

Campaigner Award – Isle of Wight Ramblers

The Isle of Wight is excluded from provisions for an England Coast Path in the 2009 Marine and Coastal Access Act. The Isle of Wight Ramblers has fought against this and last July it was announced DEFRA would carry out a consultation about the inclusion of the island under the Act.

Successful Committee Member Award – Morag Kellaway and Elisabeth Longley, Badenoch and Strathspey Ramblers

Morag Kellaway and Elisabeth Longley saved the Badenoch and Strathspey Ramblers from extinction when the then committee resigned in 2010. Morag and Elisabeth kept the committee going and the group is now thriving with a great walks programme.

Partnership Award – Wessex Wandered walk leaders, Avon, Somerset, Wiltshire and Dorset Ramblers

A collaboration between the Avon, Somerset, Wiltshire and Dorset Ramblers, the Wessex Wanderers organise a programme of walks based on the railway line between Bristol and Weymouth, working with organisations including the Heart of Wessex Rail Partnership.

Media Award – Isle of Wight Ramblers

The Isle of Wight Ramblers write a monthly column for the Isle of Wight County Press. They also produce a walk for inclusion on the Readers Letters pages. There has been good feedback about the walks and the newspaper’s editor has been inspired to explore more of the island!