According to John Noblet, Tavistock Ramblers is more than just a group of people who go walking together. ‘Tavistock Ramblers is like a family,’ he says. ‘People have found friendships and mutual support.’
In the 18 years John has volunteered with the group, he’s got involved with just about everything. His many contributions include being the group's treasurer, co-developing its walks programme, organising holidays and training walk leaders. He also manages the group's website and Facebook page and oversees the printing of its publicity materials.
‘It was probably a case of a job needing to be done,’ says John, talking about why he's taken on so many different roles. ‘Nobody else was doing it and I’d think, “Well, I could do that.”’
With 180 members, the group is certainly thriving. And John and his fellow walk leaders make the most of their location on the edge of Dartmoor National Park, within reach of the Devon and Cornwall coast.
‘I think we broaden people’s horizons,’ he says. ‘With the walks I lead, I try to give folks something a bit different. For example, I’m doing a trail over a weekend called the Saints Way, which is a coast-to-coast across Cornwall.’
But it’s John’s love for Dartmoor that is reflected in the two books he’s written about walking in the area. ‘Dartmoor is one of the last great wildernesses in this country,’ he says. ‘There’s so much history up there, if you only look for it. That’s what I try to include in the guide books. It’s a lot more than just following a route. It’s about what you can see in the landscape.’
Despite all his hard work, the award came as a total surprise to John. ‘I was amazed,’ he says. ‘It never occurred to me that I’d even be nominated.’
During Volunteers' Week we’ll be publishing interviews with our volunteer award winners, like John, and you’ll be able to read them on our Volunteers' Week webpage.