As this is being written we are five weeks into the Club’s seventy sixth year. There is no doubt that the seventy fifth year of the club will be remembered as a good one by all of those who took part in the Club’s activities. Highlights of the year included the Langdale BBQ when lots of Ratti members had a day out on the hill followed by a Hog Roast- Shanley style; we well exceeded our aim of getting Achille Ratti members on top of 75 Lakeland Fells and the hog roast was superb. There was also an aborted attempt on the Welsh 3000’s (due to bad weather) and an excellent Club dinner at the Daffodil Hotel, Grasmere. Members of the running section continued the tradition of completing Lakeland challenges with a group completing the Central Fells on the long walk in April and Rob Green, Dave Makin and Natasha Fellowes completing the Bob Graham, 56 peaks at 56 and the Joss Naylor challenge respectively. As well as all of this various other successful meets took place including family meets at Tyn Twr and Bishop’s Scale and John Smith’s walks/ambles from LGH and Bishop’s Scale. I must thank all of those that took part in these events and in particular those who spent their own time and resources in planning and overseeing them all.
We were honoured to have local climber Dave Birkett present as our guest speaker at the dinner and what a thoroughly entertaining speech he gave. It was news to many of us younger members that it was Achille Ratti members who introduced Dave to climbing and because of this he holds the Club in high regard. Dave did recognise that traditional climbing is nowhere near as popular as it was, with the crags not attracting the numbers of climbers that they would have done a number of years ago. This is reflected within the Achille Ratti membership; rarely do members climb from the huts these days and the climbing meets that we hold at Tyn Twr and Little Ground House are often not well supported. It really would be good to see more members leave our huts on a Saturday morning laden with ropes and gear and if we could encourage a few more to attend the climbing meets that would be an added bonus. You really couldn’t ask for better locations to climb from.
I am pleased to say that the 2017 AGM was held in record time without incident; a good sign that things are now settling down within the Club after what might be described as a turbulent period, with the selling of Dunmail and the buying of Little Ground House. I am also very pleased to announce that the final loan from members which helped fund the purchase and renovation of LGH is in the process of being repaid and very soon the club will be debt free. I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of those who dug deep into their pockets to ensure that that we could go ahead with the purchase of LGH. It really is a massive asset for the club and all I can do is encourage members to take any opportunity they have to make use of the hut. We are in a very privileged position to have a hut in the Wasdale valley.
The Club’s seventy fifth year ended and seventy sixth year started with a great gathering at Bishop’s Scale. On New Year’s Eve a large group managed a trip up Bowfell and returned to a Jacob’s Join that would beat most Jacob’s Joins. Most then headed down to the New Dungheon Ghyll for the New Year to be brought in by Bodgers Mate and fireworks. The annual Side Pike fell race was held on New Year’s day. The number of entries was down to six and the race was won by Owen Pollard for the third year in a row. I was good to see Paul Harling take part in his first fell race for many years – it might even have been his first fell race ever - Old County Tops next Paul. This really is a good little run on New Year’s day and I do have a seedling of an idea to try and make it into a slightly bigger event – watch this space.
I am very sorry to report that soon after New Year Leo Pollard fell ill and he passed away on 18th January after a short period in hospital. Our thoughts are with all of the Pollard family and Sheila Anderton at this sad time. A sign of Leo’s popularity was that over three hundred people, including many Achille Ratti members, attended his funeral at Horwich Parish Church on Thursday 1st February. The commitment that Leo showed to the Achille Ratti was second to none and even though he could no longer run the fells in the manner that he loved he was always there to encourage and inspire others to do so. Leo will be greatly missed by many members of the Achille Ratti. One role that Leo took very seriously was his position as Trustee of the Club. As a Trustee Leo would regularly attend committee meetings; his wisdom, ideas and enthusiasm will be missed. The now vacant position of Club Trustee has been offered to Martin Kirkman and I am pleased to say that Martin has agreed to take this on. We are currently in the process of completing the legal documentation to facilitate this and I look forward to the contribution that Martin will make to the Club.
There will be those that noticed that the 2018 events calendar was issued a little earlier than normal. Whilst this is good in many ways, it has led to some amendments needing to be made due to circumstances changing since the calendar was printed in September. Email notification of these has been sent out and I can only apologise to those who had made arrangements based on the original version. The final and definitive version of the calendar is the one that is on the website. If you plan to come on a club event it is advisable to check the calendar on the website just to confirm that the event is still taking place on the day that you believe it to be!
Finally, one thing that has lapsed during recent years is the publication of a Club journal. Clubs such as ours would traditionally produce an annual journal as a record of the activities of the members during that year; many clubs still do this. I would really like to reinstate the Achille Ratti journal and I would ask any member who has taken part in a mountain or water related activity during recent years, or who will be doing so during 2018, that they believe would be of interest to other and future members, to write an article, including photographs if possible, so that we can look into producing a journal towards the end of 2018.
I finish by wishing all Achille Ratti members many good days in the hills during 2018. Please use our huts as often as you can and join in the organised meets – this keeps the club going. We are actively seeking new members so if you have friends who you believe would appreciate what we have to offer please bring them along.