That’s what happens when you daydream! Shirley had asked a question and I wasn’t listening properly but became aware that everyone was looking at me expectantly, so mumbled a vague “OK” and that’s how, five years ago, I became leader of the WARM walking group. I’m Jessica and by the time you read this, will actually have just handed over Presidency to Martin O’Hanlon.
Actually, I don’t really remember what happened in detail, but I know that it started an unforgettable period in which I had a lot of fun and made a lot of new friends. All that was needed was someone willing to co-ordinate a programme of outings; simple! It seems so long ago now and so much has happened. I’d love to be able to zap the memories into your heads, but maybe that’s not such a good idea! Hopefully, the attached photos will whet your appetite.
To start with we had to get affordable insurance, but all the different options were too expensive so eventually we set up an ‘Asociación’ – an official, tax-registered, non-profit-making company. I felt scarily out of my depth doing it, but Patricio provided the comfort of a safety-net and we were instantly rocketed to the roles of President and Vice President respectively. The objective was achieved though and five years ago we bought the first season’s insurance.
We then had a new problem to think about – our success! Larger group sizes meant increased distance between walkers at the back and front – not a comfortable situation for anyone and particularly difficult for the leaders. We resolved it by also having SWARM walks. Offering these slower, shorter, simpler outings allowed everybody to choose which pace of walk they would prefer. Post-pandemic and possibly less fit, I suspect that a SWARM walk might be most people’s first choice for the start of the new season!
WARM only succeeds because we have people who are willing to share a walk – it couldn’t exist without the goodwill of the groups of people who volunteer to lead (none are professional). This collaboration has been a part of our ethos from the beginning and probably the key ingredient of why we are so relaxed and welcoming – we all understand the effort involved in leading a route and are therefore more tolerant of occasional imperfections; long may it continue!
Then COVID! Enough said; we all understand the implications. Thanks to new Secretary Norma’s professionalism, we managed the difficult situation – what a baptism of fire for her! We hope that (adopting all appropriate safety measures) we will soon be able to resume walking activities this autumn; the new programme is partially ready.
WARM started in 2005 after Pat’s request for people to join her and Lawrie on a walk. I like to think that although committee members may change, as a group, we’re continuing her welcoming tradition. Murcia is such an amazing region and we’re constantly finding fascinating new places to explore.
I’m very pleased with what has been achieved over the last five years, but there’s so much more to do. I’ve really missed exploring with friends and shall most definitely be sticking around to enjoy our future frolics (how did Norma find last month’s photo of me with a pint?!) and working to support the current committee: David, Karin, Martin, Norma and Patricio. There’s also the second walking book to get started on.
Let’s get out there; places to go, people to meet, bars to inspect! Maybe you would like to join us? Just email your details to WARM2005@gmail.com