Annual report 2015

by

President’s Preamble

It has been a great honour for me to have been president of LFA for the last 13 years. I had been on active service on the committee in various roles since 1977 and appreciated the chance to keep in touch, without responsibility, when I retired as secretary in 2002!

Brian J and I both joined the committee in 1975, when Gilbert Odell had been secretary for 30 years. (Longevity of service was the norm!) Our founder member, A.J. Gimson, served as secretary and treasurer (simultaneously) for 25 years from 1887. A.W. Rippin was chairman for 33 years, during which time Harry Peach was secretary for 22 years and Sidney Pick was treasurer for 28 years, and then went on as chair from 1949 to 1976!!

Brian has been secretary on two occasions, the first from 1977 to 1983 and the second 2005 to 2015. I have moved around, Jack of all trades, as chair, secretary, diversions and closures secretary and rambles secretary etc. We have both worked harmoniously as representatives on official bodies and at public enquiries and played our parts in leading walks for the club, as well as giving talks on many occasions to spread the word about LFA and the importance of enjoying, and showing respect for, the countryside around us. Looking back on our achievements I feel I can retire, in the hope that Brian will take on the presidency

The highlights of LFA work in my lifetime centre on our centenary, celebrated in 1987. For this the committee planned a series of events.

Jack Garner, our rambles secretary planned the route for the Leicestershire Round, for 100 miles of our 100 years official existence! Four of us walked, wrote, edited and published it with support from LCC, who later way marked and maintained it.

Steve W, our chairman and later treasurer, organised our centenary summer rambles programme to cover the whole round in stages with a coach to transport us from the start and finishing points. Mary E organised a Victorian dress walk through Swithland Woods, with a Victorian tea party in Swithland village hall.

We had a dinner for about 80 people in Scraptoft college and there were various receptions and displays by the Leicester Mercury and at County Hall.

I wrote a history of LFA called “The Well Trodden Path”, (reprints available from Ken B and on-line, essential reading for members of LFA!!)

Three years ago LCC organised a 30th year birthday party for us to celebrate the production of the Leicestershire Round. We met in Bradgate Park on a beautiful day, with speeches by LCC officials and from LFA thanking one another for the part each played in this Long Distance route. The walk and the cake we provided were much appreciated by the large group who attended.

Jim Mason came in for much praise for his co-operation and his work for LFA. He had been our ‘Round Man’ employed by LCC for many years to install the waymark posts and to improve the safety of footplanks over ditches. He is, sadly, no longer with us (he died in September) and we miss his knowledge of all the paths in Leicestershire. He had originally walked our Leicestershire Round when it was first published, travelling from home by bus. Later he joined the committee and became rambles secretary for thirteen years. His three seats on the Round are suitable memorials to him, his work and his LFA friends.

Five years ago, in 2010, following our success with the LDR we decided to produce a book of shorter Country Park Walks. I enjoyed writing the book with the help of club members to fool-proof the walks and of LCC footpaths department to provide maps and photographs for illustration. This was a great success. Nearly all the 3000 copies have been sold. We only have about 100 copies left.

Changes and improvements:- Walking footpaths is much easier than it was when I started. In those days we were only a small group. We walked fortnightly travelling out and back by bus. There were no waymarks, few signposts from the road, many impassable fields, non-existent or broken stiles, and hostile farmers and landowners. Waymarks were introduced at about the time of our centenary celebrations and the success of the L.R has contributed to the improvement of paths, which are now usually visible on the ground. Many stiles have been replaced by gates and many of our reported obstructions have been cleared.

Mid week walks were introduced in 1990, initially on alternate Tuesday mornings. When the groups grew as large as forty, we expanded to weekly walks on Wednesdays and then Thursdays. We now have two walks of different lengths on most days and some groups are as large as forty! So many feet keep our paths well marked.

We have a website, thanks to Ken B, which helps us to keep us in touch and spreads information about our activities, our history and our achievements to others. And our numbers grow.

Next year Ken intends to re publish the Round, as copies are nearly all sold out. He has plans to re walk the route and make any necessary changes to bring the book up to date.

I leave the committee knowing it is in safe hands with a new generation of enthusiastic workers to fly the flag for LFA. I a proud to have been part of the work of protecting and improving the footpaths for healthy and responsible walking in lovely countryside.

Heather MacD.

Download the full report here Annual report 2015

Advertisements

%d bloggers like this: