Group Chair's Report
I’d like to start my first report as Group Chair by thanking our outgoing Chairman, Mike Shephard, for all his hard work over the last 3 years and his continued commitment and dedication to the Group. He will be a hard act to follow!
We’re a thriving group in our little corner of Bedfordshire, but there is no doubt that we, and Ramblers in general, are facing challenging times. There are more competing walking groups than ever before: some independent groups, some run by organisations such as U3A and some born from the rise of social media. Ramblers membership is declining nationwide, and so is our membership. Some people have had to give up walking through infirmity or plain old age and some members have moved away, but we are not replacing them with new members.
The key question is: how do we attract new members to our Group. To ensure the Group’s future success we need to recruit and retain people in their 30s, 40s and 50s. Similarly, most of our current walks are shorter ones under 8 miles. These are justifiably popular, but we also need a healthy long walks programme so we can offer full variety to prospective new members. The Committee will be examining these issues seriously in the coming months, but if any member has any ideas about the future direction of the Group, or suggestions for trips, themed walks or social events, please do let me or any member of the Committee know.
It’s my intention to come on some shorter walks in the New Year to chat to those of you I see less often to find out what you want from the Group and if that is being catered for.
It’s not all doom and gloom though! Inside is a fabulous Winter Programme of short and longer walks to get us through the colder months, as well as some fun social events which of course all members who no longer walk are very welcome to attend.
Wishing you all a very Happy Christmas, New Year and beyond.