The Footloose Walking Group
Members’ Leaflet (2017 Edition)
From the start, the Footloose Walking Group has been run on a deliberately informal basis so that a group of like-minded people could meet regularly for walks and social purposes with the minimum of bureaucracy and formal committee procedures. It is still our goal to appeal to and serve the interests of individuals wishing to walk and be sociable in company with others. A voluntary steering group was established to run the Group’s affairs in the first year but Footloose was run very effectively for several years by just one or two individuals – see next section. At the end of 2009, however, it was decided that changing circumstances and the need for at least Public Liability Insurance meant we needed to establish a working Committee structure around an agreed Constitution. To that end the AGM in 2010 opted unanimously to adopt a Constitution and elect a Chairman and Committee to handle its affairs. Such formality as we have today is based on that decision by Members. The Committee are all volunteers and no expenses are claimed for service on behalf of Members. The good news is, thanks to the Internet, postage costs been eliminated so that the annual sub was £5.00 in 2002 remains the same today despite the addition of the aforementioned Insurance Costs. Our committee arrangements have not increased costs. Not a lot of bodies can say that!
In the beginning…
Footloose was the inspiration of Linda Marshall, who wanted to encourage single people in the Furness and South Lakes Area with an interest in walking to get together to plan and enjoy walks – sharing the walks leadership as volunteers. Linda approached the local press who put together an article about the first meeting to be convened which was held at the Stan Laurel Pub in Ulverston in October 1999. Some 40 people attended. After the initial period with a steering group to run Footloose affairs, even that formality was dropped and, or so it seemed, the Group ‘just worked’ with the unanimous support of its Members. In fact it was largely due to the unobtrusive but very effective work of another active member, Simon Hughes, and one or two others over several years who kept the show on the road.
We are a friendly group of over 80 Members and Footloose retains its original aim to serve the interests of like-minded people, though we are now very much a club open to all, not just singles. We welcome anyone interested in the sort of walks and social activities we provide.
Membership was originally mainly located in the Furness area of Cumbria but today it divides fairly evenly between the Furness and Kendal areas but with a number of Members living outside the County. Meetings and social events tend to be held (as far as possible) alternatively one side of South Lakes or the other.
While walking was and still is the main activity it has been good to see Members volunteering to run social events in recent years either for individual groups of friends or for the wider membership. Birthday related events, theatre visits, walking weekends from hostels, walking holidays abroad have provided good examples of this activity. Cycling, bowling, archery, climbing walls and kayaking have also featured (not all at the same time!). One memorable occasion saw some of the Group in a Dragon Boat race.
Key features of the Footloose Walking Group
1. Footloose has a Website (see heading of this Leaflet) maintained regularly by a Committee Member, which all interested in the Group should look at. It contains the Constitution, this Leaflet, current Walks Programme, social events, recent photographs, the latest newsletter and so on.
2. Constitution and Committee. To be updated annually with elections as needed. The current Constitution and names of Committee members are to be found on the Website.
3. AGM. An AGM is held at the end November or early December. It is combined with a walk and a seasonal meal and serves also as one of the quarterly Planning Meetings. A Chairman and Committee are elected at these meetings in accordance with the Constitution
4. A Quarterly Newsletter distributed by e-mail concurrently with the Walks Programme containing news of any planned events and notes on recent activities.
5. Membership of Footloose runs from January to December each year and cost £5.00. Anyone joining after the end of August onwards will have his or her membership carried forward into the following year. Prospective new Members are entitled to up to three walks to see how they fit with the group before being urged to join formally and pay the relevant subscription.
6. Finances. The yearly membership fee is kept as low as possible and its primary purpose is to pay the Group’s Public Liability Insurance premium. As a voluntary grouping we are not required to have our accounts audited but the financial position will be outlined each year at the AGM. Those wishing further detail may contact the Treasurer/Membership Secretary.
7. Walks and Social Planning Meetings. These meetings, normally in a pub in the evenings, are social and informal and are the heart of Footloose activities and are often combined with Committee meetings. The quarterly Walks Programme is subsequently e-mailed to all members. Members are urged to take part in the Planning Meetings and encouraged to submit walks and act as Leaders for the walks they propose.
8. Walks take place on most Sundays but some shorter evening walks in the summer months may also be featured. We endeavour to provide a mix of easier walks (7-8 miles) and harder walks in which ascents and descents as well as mileage provide the grading.
9. As a group of individuals we agree to take full responsibility for ourselves and our equipment on any walks or social activity we choose to participate in. Footloose maintains Public Liability Insurance for possible third party claims against us but the Walking Group accepts no liability whatever for the personal safety of individuals or the consequences of any incident or accident that may occur.
10.Footloose is an ‘open’ group and welcomes new and guest walkers. On occasion we may be asked to accept guests who are disabled or partially sighted. Before an acceptance is given the matter must be referred to the Committee as under the terms of our Insurance Policy, the Chairman is ultimately responsible for all safety matters. The Committee will then decide whether, or how, these guests can be accommodated.
11.Following a vote at the 2016 AGM, the Committee has agreed to circulate full membership contact details to current group Members. Any Member not wishing to have these details circulated should contact the Membership Secretary, currently Norman French, in writing. NB it is stressed that membership details will never be divulged to any person or organisation out-with Footloose Walking Group.
Responsibility of Members
Its common sense really but needs stating …. Members agree to:
Be fully responsible for their own safety and not act in a manner that may jeopardize the safety of others. If a Member has any doubts about their ability on a walk it is always advisable to contact the Walk Leader before setting out.
Ensure that when taking part in a Footloose walk they are properly equipped with suitable footwear, wet weather clothing, hats and gloves, rucksacks and extra layers for warmth, walking poles if needed and enough food and water for the day.
Assess from their own standpoint the implications of the weather forecast on chosen walk days (for example probability of mist, ice or snow) and prepare accordingly.
Maintain their own simple first aid kit and carry a compass and head torch in case of need. Maps of the walk area are not essential, except for Walks’ Leaders, but will always be found useful.
If bringing a dog on a Footloose walk, to keep them on a lead where this is required by public notice, where livestock is present, or when requested by the Walk Leader, and to ensure they do not create a hazard or nuisance for Group members.
Be alert to other walkers, particularly those who may have dropped back. In broken or wooded country and bad weather all walkers should be especially vigilant to prevent those in the rear from becoming detached or lost.
To let the Back Marker know if they plan to drop behind (for a comfort stop etc.) so that they do not lose contact with the group.
If a Member starts a walk and for any reason decides not to continue it is essential that they notify the Walk Leader or the Back Marker of their decision. Any walker who is no longer in communication with either the Leader or Back Marker will be deemed to have left the group and to have decided to make their own way back.
At the start of each calendar year, Members will be required to sign a Disclaimer Form declaring their personal responsibility for their own safe conduct within the limits of their capabilities, absolving Footloose Walking Group from any liability whatever for their personal safety or the consequences of any incident or accident that may occur. These Disclaimers will be kept on file and will be renewable annually.
To carry in or on their rucksack Emergency Contact Details; those of a relative or friend who can be contacted in the unlikely event of a major trauma.
Responsibilities of Walk Leaders
It is essential for the Leader to have a map and compass and preferably a mobile phone for contact, plus an adequate first aid kit.
Unless they know the route well and the weather is clear it is always desirable to reconnoitre a route beforehand, noting points of possible risk or hazard and options if the weather turns out to be unsuitable for the intended walk. This would be an important matter in the event of any incident.
Provide a short briefing at the start of the walk describing the route and the general terrain to be covered, highlighting any possible hazards and options that Members should consider before they start.
Lead from the front so that more energetic walkers do not get too far ahead or out of contact distance.
Appoint a Back Marker on the day that briefing accordingly with particular instruction whom to keep in touch (visually), halting the leading group as needed so that the whole group stays in sight. It is the Leader’s role to keep the group together but the Back Marker should also have a map and know the planned route. The need to maintain visual contact with the whole group is particularly important in broken or wooded country and in bad weather.
To carry copies of the Footloose Disclaimer Form for any new or guest walkers. These must be signed by the guest and collected by the Leader and forwarded to the Membership Secretary. Leaders should attempt to get feedback from guests.
Submit a very brief synopsis of the day to the Web Site Coordinator – numbers, weather and any incidents.