This article is from Signpost 54, Summer 2017
I am writing this as I recuperate from a major operation and, whilst rest is vital, the hospital physiotherapist’s words to me were “Walking is the best medicine”. So I started by hobbling up and down the ward, then around my home, and now, 10 days later, I’m enjoying fresh air and admiring local gardens as I gradually build up the length and frequency of my daily walks. OK, they’re really more stiff strolls at the moment, but at least the slow pace allows me to appreciate the beautiful spring flowers everywhere - it’s a lovely time of year to be convalescing.
I’ve been taking minutes at PNFS Committee meetings for many years now, so it felt strange to miss last month’s meeting of the managing committee. It occurred to me that I get a behind-the-scenes view of the Society from a unique vantage point which the members might find interesting, so I decided to share some observations from my experience of taking minutes for PNFS.
The diverse backgrounds of the men and women who volunteer to help run the Society are fascinating. Some have worked in PRoW Departments prior to retirement, so are ideally placed to communicate with Local Authorities. Others, who studied law or worked in legal fields, thoroughly enjoy using complex case law to champion walkers’ rights. Still others prefer practical outdoor tasks like cleaning and freshening the Society’s signposts with a new coat of paint. Those with IT expertise have been especially busy recently, looking for improved ways to monitor and manage our footpaths. A new online database created by the Society’s volunteers should greatly help Footpath Inspectors. An impressive website to showcase the Society has also been developed by Members. The Treasurer constantly seeks to make best use of the charity’s funds, whilst the Membership Secretary and Publicity Officer look for new members and collect subscriptions to fund the Society’s activities. T he Secretary manages a huge admin workload. Meanwhile, the hardworking multi-tasking Chairman has the responsibility of overseeing the smooth running of all of the above!
So the managing team has a wide spectrum of interests and skills but the common denominator, the golden thread binding the team together, is a passion for the Society’s goal of protecting our valuable network of public footpaths for the enjoyment of all who walk on them.
Sometimes, the mood of meetings is marked by frustration, when enthusiastic efforts to rectify path problems are not responded to quickly by Councils whose staff and budgets have suffered severe cuts. But then there is the elation when areas are opened up for walkers to enjoy by, for example, something as simple as a footbridge being installed as a memorial structure from a member’s legacy donation, over quagmire which was preventing access.
I hope this sneak peep through the window with the minute-taker into the many aspects involved in running PNFS has given members a sense of pride in their managing team, because they are a very sincere and friendly bunch and deserve recognition for all their hard work and efforts. After all, as keen walkers themselves, I’m sure they’d rather be outdoors walking the footpaths instead of sitting around a table in Taylor House discussing the organisational side of running the charity.
Well, I’ve been sitting here long enough writing this article. It’s time for me to drag this stiff, achy body out walking again on the road to recovery from my op.
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