Area walk with the Ramblers CEO Vanessa Griffiths
Members from across Essex were joined today by Vanessa, the Ramblers Chief Executive, for a walk from Matching Green.
Alan introducing Vanessa to the group Lunch at The Fox Matching Tye Group photo at Matching Church
Ramblers’ Chief Executive walks with Essex Ramblers
When Vanessa Griffiths was appointed as The Ramblers CEO, I emailed her on behalf of Essex Area to wish her luck and invite her on a walk in our county.
That walk took place on 27 June. Thirty four members from 13 of the 18 Groups in Essex met at Matching Green to walk with Vanessa. There were smiles all round, except from the weather gods who decided for the first time in 10 days to save us watering our gardens.
We walked across the fields and through ripening corn to Matching Tye and The Fox pub for lunch. There were many conversations with Vanessa over a wide range of issues, but again and again communications came up, not only between Central Office and the Groups, but between Groups and between members. Members spoke not only to Vanessa but also with those from other Groups, creating a very dynamic lunch time and making the point, as do the Ramblers’ Road Shows, of the benefit of meeting others in relaxed surroundings.
Issues such as Network Rail and its next phase of closures, website support from The Ramblers, publicity to the general public of the work done to keep paths open, support for Working Parties, the need for regional meetings to build networks and exchange knowledge, the Tapestry IT project, the value of the information in the CEO's monthly newsletter, the Lost Paths projects, better and easier access to information held by Central Office, the Coastal Path and our celebrations, the Festival of Walks and the support Groups need, were just some of the discussions. In fact only when the ice cream and apple pie were served were there pauses. If only Area Councils were like this, imagine the work we would all get done!
With luck we were in the pub when the heaviest rain fell, after which we walked in fine weather to the 11th Century Matching Church, with its 17th Century Wedding House, the Manor House and Home Farm clustered around a mighty oak tree. It was in front of this that the whole group smiled for the camera and posterity.
There were still smiles as we returned to our cars and Vanessa returned to London to fight battles on our behalf.
It was clear to everyone that the day was a success. Over lunch Vanessa remarked that it was often easier to talk frankly while walking than in more formal situations, and I am sure that this is true: to be able to talk and listen to The Ramblers CEO in relaxed and pleasant surroundings benefited everyone. Much useful information was gained and many confusing and misleading issues were overcome.
This most enjoyable day was created by Vanessa finding time to meet our members. She wrote to me afterwards pass on her thanks to members for their friendly welcome and “for sharing their wisdom with me so freely. I thoroughly enjoyed it and I came back re- energised and full of their ideas”. We too would like to record our thanks to her and hope she gained as much as we all did.
Alan Goffee, Essex Area Chair