Wednesday Walkers Oldham
Ida Ashworth our Club Founder and President said, “One lovely summers day I was admiring the roof tops of Derker from an office in Farranti’s when I thought, there must be more to life than this. When I retire I’m going to go walking.”
After more than 3 decades of walking our club members have walked and climbed the beautiful countryside of Oldham, Saddleworth, South Pennines, West Pennines Moors, the Northern Peak District and more.
Membership has grow from 10 to 230 members.
It is important that we never lose sight of the fact that we are all here to help each other and ensure all our club experiences are enjoyable and of a benefit to all.
On Wednesday 2nd April 1986, ten people set off for an informal walk which we now refer to as the Inaugural walk. This walk formed the foundation of our Club. Their aim was to promote socialising, well-being and fitness for individuals within the local community.
Some 31 years later, the club has in excess of 230 members, married and single, aged between 50 and 90+. The majority of our members are active and retired. Some members, now less ambulant, keep their memberships solely for the club's social events. We have an ageing membership and when a bereavement happens to a member or their family, the club offers its strength and support.
Each Wednesday we offer 4 different levels of walks, ranging from 5/7, 6/8, 8/10 and 10/12 miles, with varied terrain to match each level.
During summer months, our President, Ida Ashworth now aged 88, leader of the original 10 people still partakes in the Amblers monthly walk, which allows elder members to walk and enjoy a social lunch.
The Committee have introduced many initiatives including an annual 5 day Walking Holiday. A coach transfers members to their chosen destination (last year Tenby). Organised walks are offered daily and the coach remains available during the holiday.
A potato pie lunch is organised each quarter. All four walks are planned so that they meet at the venue, this has been great for club updates and socializing.
During the year two club outings are planned. In June we chose Settle and offered four walks. In September a social sightseeing day is planned to Chester.
In December we have our “highlight of the year”, the Christmas Lunch – Glad rags on, it gives time for all members to socialise. We have formed a choir who lead us in carols to support this festive occasion.
Where possible, we support fundraising events for Mountain Rescue, Air Ambulance and the RNLI organisations. Training has been offered to members in Basic First Aid, Heartstart and how to use a Defibrillator. 130 club members have gained British Heart Foundation Certificates, 8 club members received certificates as British Heart Foundation, Heartstart Trainer’s. These trainers now update the club members annually.
Club members have a wealth of knowledge and life’s experiences. Many members have joined together to develop training in leadership skills, map and compass training and health and safety within walking environments to enhance the safety of our walkers.
Recently we joined with the Ramblers Association in “The Ramblers Big Path Watch” exercise. Every footpath in the Oldham and Rochdale area has been inspected and a report is passed to the appropriate council department, showing the current state of the footpaths. Rochdale has the greatest number of public Rights of Way in the UK.
Many of our members, along with other walking clubs, are working in the Community weekly clearing footpaths requested from the Ramblers reports, as wells as club members’ and community foot path complaints.
Our legacy for future generations is to maintain these footpaths, keep them accessible and open for everyone to enjoy.
How would this funding have an impact on your community?
We would spend the money in two areas.
1) Maintenance for Little Anne CPR training manikins for our Heart start training. Part of the donation would enable the club to continue to provide regular training and annually update members on Heartstart issues. The club is also willing to offer Basic First Aid and Heartstart training within the community. In essence, there will be more people in the community who are trained and understand the importance of “Early Life Support”. Many defibrillators are being installed throughout the community and, through the Heartstart training, people in the community would become more confident to react to an emergency situation and to use this equipment, perhaps saving a life.
2) To buy items for use by our club volunteers to help with clearing footpaths.
Wednesday Walkers club members have been involved with local Ramblers groups on various footpath projects: the main one being “The Ramblers Big Path Watch”.
2015 – “The Big Path Watch” has checked every footpath in the Oldham and Rochdale area (Rochdale has the largest number by area in the UK) and many of our members have contributed to producing reports on the state of each path. All reports were fed back to the relevant local council departments.
2016 – Local council expenditures have been reduced. We joined forces with the Ramblers to identify our worst overgrown footpaths in both the urban and rural areas of our community and produced a planned maintenance programme. Council letters of approval have enabled our members to carry out this valuable community work safely and for the benefit of all people in the community, who enjoy outdoor life pursuits. The club’s Footpath Secretary, attends quarterly Footpath Forums with both Oldham and Rochdale Councils, where footpath issues are discussed with other interested parties (walking groups, bridleway societies, etc.) to decide where our support can be used.
2017 – During our footpath clearances last year, it became clear that with more “industrial” equipment, we could continue this important work through 2017 and beyond and make the task easier and quicker, thus clearing more paths. With all this work, we are keen to help to preserve the footpaths for generations to come.
The natural environment is free for persons of all ages to use and the extra access to land, via our cleared registered footpaths, enables people to enjoy all areas of the outdoors which helps stimulate health and wellbeing through exercise.
Heartstart training has already proved invaluable within our club by saving a members life. Our club and its members are the perfect combination to offer training to others in the hope of saving a life in emergency situations. By playing our small part in offering training in Heartstart and our commitment to preservation of the environment for the enjoyment of ourselves and others, we feel that there will be many people in the community who will benefit from our actions.
""Every mile brings a smile" - Maureen Lindsay (Chair Lady)"