The idea for a Bilston group of The Ramblers Association was first proposed by Steve Spencer early in 1998.
Whilst there were existing local groups in Wolverhampton, Walsall and Sandwell, these were not exactly convenient for people in Bilston. Steve therefore had the idea of establishing a Bilston group to this end he contacted existing RA members in and around Bilston.
This was early February 1998, the initial reception to Steve's idea was quite favourably received, so the next step was to organise a meeting for interested parties.
This initial meeting took place on 12th March 1998, a small group of people (including Myself) sat around a table to discuss the idea of a Bilston group The outcome was an agreement that we should meet again as a ‘Working Group’.
This second meeting took place on 3r1March, Various matters were discussed and agreements were reached regarding responsibilities at the forthcoming public meeting
This public meeting took place on 23rd April 1998, the principle purpose of this meeting, was to seek a formal mandate to create a new local group of the Ramblers Association
This proposal was unanimously earned and a formal steering committee was elected to oversee the process of forming The Ramblers Association (Bilston Group), to be known as Bilston Ramblers.
The group's Inaugural General Meeting was held on 25th June 1998.
During this meeting, The Ramblers Association (Bilston Group) was officially created. Bilston Ramblers was born. The group initially thrived with around 50 members, aided by extensive support and guidance from Steve Spencer the group flourished and quickly established a regular programme of guided walks, which proved quite popular.
The group settled down into a well-established routine, but over the years it became apparent that things were not as well as they at first seemed.
Membership began to dwindle although we did get some new members the overall trend was downhill. Some years ago the group decided on a new way of approaching our guided walks, we decided to go 100% with using Public Transport to get to and from the start/finish point of our walks.
We were surprised to be told that no other Ramblers Group had ever tried this, instead relying on shared cars to travel to walks, although a few Public Transport walks had been done they were very much the exception.
Virtually all of our members were 60+, this had good and bad aspects, good being that it cost us little or nothing to use Public Transport thus keeping costs down, the bad side was that members were becoming increasingly frail and we lost quite a few when they died.
Gradually things worsened, few members were prepared to help run the group or to come forward as volunteer walk leaders, by late 2017 we had only about 4 or 5 walk leaders, despite which it was decided to try and keep the group running a while longer. Come early 2018 I myself became unable to walk more than a couple of Hundred Yards, which meant I could no longer take an active role in walks. Then around the same time another of our regular leaders was forced to pull out due to eyesight problems.
Now there were 3 leaders, then come March another of our leaders was forced to pull out on medical advice, so then there were 2 plus the occasional Guest leader.
This was no longer a viable situation so in accordance with our constitution a Special General Meeting was arranged. The entire existing committee made it clear that we were not prepared to continue trying to run the group as things stood.
Saturday April 14th 2018, a vote was put to the members who turned up to decide if the group could continue under new management, sadly the answer was No, so around 2:20PM Bilston Ramblers were declared dead.
Martin Peake Last Chairman of Bilston Ramblers.