Mel Bale, Trustee, Membership Secretary and Webmaster
This article is from Signpost 67, Spring 2021
I think it safe to say that none of us can remember a year like 2020. We have all had to change our everyday routines to cope with the pandemic. We have had to get used to limiting what we can do and where we can go for our own safety and that of others. The certainty of normality has been replaced by uncertainty and doubts about when the old normal will return. Some of us may even be asking ourselves if we really want to return to how things were or whether we can learn from the last 12 months and create a new normal.
Let me give you an example. I have been the society’s membership secretary for well over 4 years. Looking back, I can see that our membership numbers each January have remained more or less constant at around 1150. Each year people joined, some existing members declined to renew and sadly a few passed away, all this was normal. But, despite the pandemic or maybe because of it, 2020 wasn’t a normal year for our membership numbers. In January of this year, the society’s membership had increased by almost 10%. No one reason can explain this rise, there are a combination of factors at play. My fellow trustee, Jenny Allen placed a volunteering advertisement on the website do-it.org and this has led directly to a number of people joining the society and becoming Footpath Inspectors. Our Path Checker initiative has also encouraged people to join. Also, it has never been easier to join PNFS. People can now do so online and pay their subscription either by bank transfer or PayPal. This in turn means that their membership is usually confirmed within 24 hours. Finally, and possibly most importantly, I think that the pandemic has led to more people spending time outside and experiencing the PROW network and open spaces in a range of ways. A recent new member emailed me to say that walking had kept her and her partner sane through these dark days.
More members means not only increased income for the society but also potentially more volunteers to carry out our important work. This is what I meant about a new and better normal. Wouldn’t it be great if our numbers could continue to grow at a similar rate over the coming years? I urge everyone to renew their membership when their subscription falls due and also tell their friends and families about PNFS and encourage them to join us.
I would also like to say a few words about the website. The last issue of Signpost carried an advertisement asking for volunteers to help us with our website redesign project. We had a good response and a number of members are now actively involved. In addition two new features have been added to the website. There is now a dedicated area that shows routes devised and contributed by members, pnfs.org.uk/routes. This was prompted by Gordon Richard’s article in the winter issue. If members would like their routes to be included they should send as much detail as possible to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Finally, the tenth Parish Notes is published in this issue and they can all now be viewed at another area pnfs.org.uk/parishnotes
Next: A Victory in Calderdale
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