Essex Area Ramblers

At the heart of walking in Essex


25 September 2017

I know it is the start of a new school year because our annual family 'find the missing PE kit' game has taken place and my inbox has been groaning under the collective weight of requests and suggestions, as summer turns to autumn once more. My daughter came home from school excited about cell biology and fossil fuels. It was wonderful to see her so animated about learning. I count curiosity - and a desire to learn, evolve and grow - as one of my core values. Joining the Ramblers has been brilliant for me, as I am learning something new, from someone interesting, every day.

I learnt a great deal when I attended the popular Kent area  White Cliffs Walking Festival recently. It is run by Les Preston and the Kent area White Cliffs group, with walks to suit everyone: from historians to botanists and even young smugglers. It is a fantastic initiative which is raising our profile and recruiting new members. I joined one of a series of extremely popular carers strolls. These walks are part of a pilot programme, being run by Les and Sue Mott, in partnership with Carers UK, with grant support from Sport England. It was a moving and inspiring experience.  

One of the reasons the White Cliffs Festival is so successful is that it is run in partnership with other organisations including various local councils, Stagecoach and Ramblers Walking Holidays. Connecting with other organisations for mutual benefit in this way helps us to reach out to new supporters. Last week I met the CEO of Mind. Mind are doing some fantastic work on schemes to help people stay well including a “Get Set Go” physical activity pilot. We discovered we had a great deal in common and agreed to bring our organisations together to share learning.

I am delighted that many other exciting partnership initiatives feature in this month’s newsletter. You can read about our new partnership with ITV and Ordnance Survey on “Britain’s Favourite Walks”. At the start of this month, our Walking for Health team helped Public Health England to launch their Active 10 campaign to encourage everyone to do at least ten minutes of brisk walking a day. And our productive partnership with Natural England on the England Coast Path continues to bear fruit through the expert and proactive involvement of many of you, as captured in this update.

Whilst I am on the subject of your expert involvement, this newsletter also includes several opportunities to get involved in some current initiatives, including: expressing interest in joining our volunteer sounding board, taking advantage of support from the policy team to engage with your local MP if you have not recently done so, responding to a significant Welsh Government consultation and applying to be a trustee for another of our valued partners, Ramblers Holidays Charitable Trust.

I would also like to take this opportunity to welcome two key new members to our team this month. As mentioned in previous newsletters, we have been seeking to recruit a dynamic new director to lead our vital membership and fundraising work and an area support manager to help us to engage well with all our area contacts. It is therefore terrific to be able to welcome Sarah Marfleet and Richard Sharp to the Ramblers and I know you will make them feel welcome as they take up their new roles at the end of this month.

I am an irredeemable bookworm. Given it is Autumn, we are walkers, and Jane Austen entered wide circulation this month on our new £10 notes, I thought I would share this line from Persuasion with you, as I think it captures perfectly the joy of walking at this wonderful time of the year: “(Her) pleasure in the walk must arise from the exercise and the day, from the view of the last smiles of the year upon the tawny leaves and withered hedges”.

I wish you, and your friends and family, some lovely seasonal rambles.

Kindest regards,


Vanessa Griffiths, chief executive officer
Phone: 020 7339 8578
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Twitter: @RamblerVan





Director of membership and fundraising - please welcome Sarah Marfleet

The Ramblers are extremely lucky to be able to benefit from the ongoing dedication, wisdom and expertise of long-serving members of staff like Eugene Suggett, who celebrated an amazing thirty years of service to the Ramblers this month. This is an extraordinary achievement and one which we were all very pleased and grateful to be able to mark. We are also lucky to be able to welcome new starters on a regular basis too, as they always bring new energy and ideas with them when they join our team.
I am therefore delighted to be able to let you know that this month we are welcoming Sarah Marfleet as our new director of membership and fundraising. As I outlined in my July newsletter, Sarah will join our senior management team. She will lead a dedicated new membership and fundraising department and develop an income generation strategy for the Ramblers. This change in our staff structure will enable us to better realise our potential and drive ambitious growth in both membership and fundraising over the coming years
Sarah is a membership and marketing professional and joins us with an impressive record of success in leading innovation, change and growth, across the income generation and membership fields. She has previously held senior roles at the Natural History Museum and the Royal Horticultural Society. She is also a keen fell walker and, when she is not at home in Kent, she is usually to be found up a mountain in the Lake District. She is keen to meet you and she can be contacted at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. if you would like to get in touch and welcome her to the team.

Area support manager - please welcome Richard Sharp

We are also joined this month by Richard Sharp, our new area support manager. As I outlined in my May newsletter, many of you will already be aware that our previous, temporary, staffing arrangements for area support come to an end this month. As General Council noted earlier this year, this is vital work and we have now recruited Richard into this key new post.  He will report directly to me and will have one North England area support officer (Diane Simcoe, already in post) and one South England area support officer (to be recruited) reporting into him, to support our 44 English areas.
Richard and the new area support team will also work closely with the nations, who are responsible for supporting the eight Scottish and seven Welsh areas respectively. We will pilot this arrangement for two years and decide on future plans at the end of this period. Richard comes to us from a distinguished career in the voluntary and public sector. He has worked across Great Britain (most recently in the West Midlands and South East) for housing associations, health boards and local authorities, where he has developed and delivered a range of successful volunteering programmes and sustainable partnerships.
In his spare time, Richard plays in a band, runs a community wine making programme and enjoys kayaking and walking along the Thames. He is very much looking forward to meeting you all, and listening to your suggestions, and he can be contacted This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Volunteering - please let us know if you are interested in joining the sounding board  

In my July newsletter I introduced you to Susie Corfield, our new volunteering manager. Susie’s role is to help us all to achieve the ambitious standards we set ourselves in Our approach to volunteering. She would like to work with a small “sounding board” of volunteers to review how far we’ve come since this document was published in 2014 and to provide feedback on what we still need to accomplish and what we should prioritise. We will provide further details in my newsletter next month about how you can formally put yourself forward to apply to be part of this sounding board. In the interim, if you have any suggestions or questions on this work or would like to express your possible interest in being part of it, don’t hesitate to contact Susie. She can be reached This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 020 7339 8569.

The Ramblers Holidays Charitable Trust - please consider applying to become a new trustee

The Ramblers Holidays Charitable Trust was established in 1969 as a registered charity. The fund was created by donations from Ramblers Walking Holidays with the principal objective at that time of providing additional financial support to the Ramblers. The trust has grown over the years and is now also able to support a number of other worthy causes, charities and organisations where small sums of money can often make a considerable difference. If you are interested in applying to become a trustee please follow this link for further details. Please note: the closing date for applications is 30 September 2017 so you will need to move quickly… 

Walk Leader Checklist - please note that the refreshed version is coming soon…  

As many of you are aware, we produce a Ramblers Walk Leader Checklist and In Case Of Emergency (ICE) card. The checklist includes a handy list of tips to help walk leaders run safe and enjoyable walks. We are currently in the process of refreshing both of these documents to ensure they are up to date in areas such as our recently revised safeguarding policy. The design work is taking a little longer than we anticipated. We wanted to let you know that we will be able to share the updated checklist and ICE card with you in October, so you can start to use the refreshed versions. If you have any questions in the meantime, please don’t hesitate to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

'Britain’s Favourite Walks' - please let us know if you have a story to share with us  

We are delighted to announce that the Ramblers is an official partner in an upcoming ITV television programme. ITV - in association with Ordnance Survey and the Ramblers - will be celebrating “Britain’s Favourite Walks” in Spring 2018 (exact date to be confirmed). The epic countdown will feature 100 of Britain’s most loved walks, and will show our most precious landscapes in all their beauty and diversity.  
Over the coming months we’ll be working with ITV to identify ramblers with emotional connections to a particular walk or landscape, to feature in the programme. If walking has provided you with a life changing experience then the engagement team would love to hear from you – please contact Ellie Clewlow, senior media & PR officer, via This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Active 10 - read about Walking For Health’s involvement and download the app

As all ramblers know, in addition to its emotional, social and spiritual benefits, a brisk walk also delivers tremendous physical benefit. At the end of August, Public Health England (PHE) launched their new Active 10 campaign to encourage adults be more physically active, starting with a daily ten minute walk. As part of the campaign, PHE launched a free app, the first of its kind to measure not only the length and time of activity undertaken, but also the intensity. So if you are interested in knowing if you are walking briskly enough, or want to encourage others to get more active - then this is the app for you…
The Ramblers, through our Walking for Health programme, was a communications partner in this campaign. As such, we provided a number of case studies which were featured in the national media – including ITV news and BBC Breakfast – resulting in some great exposure for Walking for Health. One of our trustees, Rebecca Dawson, was interviewed on LBC Radio about the health benefits of walking and how the Ramblers and the Walking for Health programme can help people to take a step in the right direction. You can find a full roundup of Walking for Health’s involvement in the campaign launch here.

England Coast Path - share your experiences and help us to celebrate this milestone  

Four ramblers from Norfolk, including Richard May (area chair and one of our trustees), were invited to meet Lord Gardiner (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Rural Affairs and Biosecurity) at Waxham on 1 September. Lord Gardiner’s ministerial brief includes responsibility for the England Coast Path. As you are aware, Ramblers' volunteers have been working tirelessly to survey and map the best route for the path, to ensure that this fantastic initiative is suitable for walkers and is completed by 2020. Lord Gardiner’s visit was captured by Anglia TV and you can watch the report here.
The visit was arranged to mark the announcement by Natural England that work has now started on all stretches of the England Coast Path. During the visit, Lord Gardiner joined our volunteers for a walk along the beach. They were able to show the Minister some of the benefits which the path will bring to the area and discuss a number of issues with him. Following the walk they joined other groups who will benefit from the path for a spot of lunch and the Minister bought everyone ice cream!
Our campaigning efforts often mean that we need to speak truth to those in power and hold them to account, to ensure walkers’ rights, and the places which we love to walk, are protected. So it is refreshing, on occasion, to be able to recognise others for good work, done well. We are therefore planning to give a big thank you to the Minister and to Natural England, for continuing to drive forward this important project in a time of austerity. It would be great if you could get involved in this initiative - just follow this link to tell us what the coast path will mean to you and to your community, and we’ll bring together all your messages for the Minister.

Walking with politicians - please let us know if we can help you to engage with your local MPs

Following previous newsletter articles, over the last few months many of our volunteers have been engaging very fruitfully with their local MPs. Members of the Oxfordshire Ramblers organised a walk in Bampton with Robert Courts MP, while the Tameside Ramblers welcomed Angela Rayner MP, Shadow Education Secretary, for a walk in the countryside near Ashton-under-Lyne. Both walks were great opportunities to talk about local and national issues, the importance of walking, and some of the messages from the Ramblers 2017 manifesto, including our ideas for the future of agricultural policy post Brexit.
A love of walking and a desire to protect and enhance the places where we walk transcends party politics. Walking with MPs - whatever their party affiliations - is an extremely useful way for us to build support for our charitable cause and to identify potential champions with whom we can work in the future. Please let our policy teamknow if you are planning a walk, or if you need some support in organising such a walk. Further guidance about organising a walk with your local MP can be found here.  

Area AGMs - please return the form before Friday 6 October  

As requested in the July and August newsletters, this is a final reminder to please let us know about your next area AGM. Thank you to all of you who have already done so. If you have not yet been able to fill in and return the short form, please can you do so by Friday 6 October at the latest, to confirm your specific interests and requirements. If you do not know all the details yet, if you can provide the date, venue and whether or not you would like a member of the board to join you, that will enable us to do our best to support your meeting and try and ensure board attendance. If we do not hear back from your area by the deadline, we will assume you do not wish any of the trustees to join your AGM this year.

Ramblers Cymru - please support our Taking Wales Forward campaign

The significant Welsh Government consultation which we featured in the July and August newsletter closes on 30 September. Welcome proposals include the removal of the 2026-cut off date for recording historic paths, a statutory code for access and a digital definitive map for Wales, but less welcome proposals include the wholesale opening up of the Welsh path network to cyclists and horse riders. We have already secured over 2,200 responses from members and supporters in support of our position, which is terrific - please do encourage your members to get involved if they have not done so already by sending their own response using our template letter tool before the deadline.

Ramblers Scotland - please note the launch of the new “Out There” campaign  

Ramblers Scotland are launching a new campaign this autumn called “Out There” to encourage more people in Scotland to appreciate the country’s amazing landscapes and world-class access rights. “Out There” is particularly aimed at encouraging non-members, decision-makers and people who are new to walking to support our work to protect and celebrate what makes Scottish walking so special, to uphold public access and help us to become an even stronger positive voice for outdoor recreation. The campaign will include email campaigns, press releases and campaign events during the next couple of years and an increase in Ramblers Scotland's social media presence as you can hopefully see from this link.

Monday, December 18, 2017