The Berkshire Walkers Walk Awards 2020 & 2021

Thank you to everyone who voted for our annual walking awards last month! We had a lovely time at the Christmas meal, and presented 12 specially made Berkshire Walkers mugs to the lucky winners.

We presented the awards at our Christmas meal, hosted at Bill’s in central Reading. We had a lovely evening – thank you very much to Andrew for making this happen!

Award 1: Most walks led – Jason & Zak

The first award was for the total number of walks led in the two years since the last Christmas meal. We all knew who the contenders were, but the surprise was that both Jason (36 walks) and Zak (34 walks) were awarded personalised mugs. As a group we owe a huge thank you to both of them for their outstanding contributions!

We ordered twelve mugs of different colours through Daisy’s company Promo Lab, each labelled with the award names. Thank you to Daisy for making this happen!

Award 2: Best easy walk – Dan H.

The second award went to Dan for his 7.5 mile easy walk Exploring East Illsey on 15th August 2020. The sun shone all day, making it the perfect day to explore the west Berkshire countryside from the picturesque village of East Illsey.

Award 3: Best moderate walk – Tom H.

Tom H. won the best moderate walk award for his hike: Alice’s adventures in the New Forest. This was a lovely autumnal walk through the New Forest – a more unusual location for our group walks. We visited the grave of Alice Liddell – the inspiration behind Alice in Wonderland, had a quick coffee or pub stop, and enjoyed the quiet beauty of the New Forest.

Tom’s autumnal walk Alice’s adventures in the New Forest.

Award 4: Best challenging walk – Jack

The most challenging walk award went to Jack for his 16 mile walk: The Goring / Whitchurch Challenge. This walk was actually split into two parts, both moderate walks on their own, and walkers had the choice of attending either half, or taking on the challenge.

Award 5: Best virtual social – Sophie

When the Covid-19 pandemic started, the group put on regular virtual socials so BW members could still keep in touch. There were many contributions to the virtual social programme, from many different members, but Sophie’s social A crackers Christmas party from December 2020 took the prize.

Sophie took on the role of social secretary in November 2020, and all her grand plans were thrown out the window when we were yet again launched into a nationwide lockdown. Sophie’s Christmas social – one of many, many virtual socials, pub meets and coffee mornings she ran for us – was fun, exciting, and unexpected, with guests being asked to run around the house to find nativity costumes and the like!

Sophie made us all run around our house to find nativity costumes with whatever we could find! See Zak the Innkeeper, Alice, Cherry the King, Rich the sheep, Sophie and Shannon, also a sheep… (use your imagination!)

Award 6: Best in-person social – Shannon

When lockdown number 3 finally ended in April 2021, as a group, we weren’t quite sure how to approach restarting socials again, with government rules limiting indoor mixing to groups of six. I put on the pub social Berkshire Walkers return to the pub! (In groups of six) with a new idea – that although we weren’t all allowed to go to the same social, we could all go to the pub at the same time. I was pleasantly surprised when 22 people signed up, forming four groups of six walkers, with everyone being assigned pubs local to them. Thank you to everyone who voted for my social!

Award 7: Best walk title – Jonathon

There have been some fantastic and entertaining walk names over the last few years. My favourites include Tom H.’s: May the Bank Holiday be with you, Zak’s Halloween walk: Something Spooky in the Woods, and Dan H.’s Time to take the Test. However, the prize went to the very original – yet witty, if you’ve ever been on a walk with us during winter! – May be muddy in Mortimer by Jonathon W. Nicely done Jonathon!

Award 8: Most welcoming member – Jason

Joining a new social group can be very daunting, and seeing a friendly face or two can make all the difference. We asked everyone to vote for up to three different people for this award, and many of our members were nominated! Zak and Irina both deserve special mentions, but the votes showed Jason to be the clear winner. Jason always goes out of his way to make new people feel welcome: I know I wouldn’t be writing this post now if it weren’t for Jason, and I’m certain that many of our members have stayed thanks to Jason’s kindness and friendliness on their first walks! Thank you Jason!

Award 9: Best first walk – Sophie W.

The wide variety of walks our group puts on, is down to the many many members who lead walks for us. As such, we’re always encouraging new people to have a go at leading. Sophie led her first walk Reading to Aldermaston last year – a linear walk along the canal from Reading, to Aldermaston (surprisingly enough!). Sophie was enthusiastic and welcoming (both excellent traits in a walk leader), wrote a brilliant walk description complete with photos, and made sure to recce the ice-cream stop too!

Sophie’s canal walk Reading to Aldermaston.

Award 10: Most committed newcomer – Matt C.

Our walk leaders and social organisers do fantastic work, but we wouldn’t be a group without all our committed walkers! We awarded the “most committed newcomer” prize to the new member (joined since Dec 2019) who had attended the most walks per weeks in the group (excluding weeks which were in lockdown, as there were no walks running). It was close, but Matt, who comes along every week, was the winner. Well done Matt!

Bonus award: A special thank you… – Irina

Finally, we wanted to give one award to someone who had done something special. An unsung hero of the group who deserved recognition, or someone who showed kindness on a walk worth celebrating. We received many nominations for this award, from the committee members who go out of their way to help the group run (thank you Sam, Jason, Zak, me?), to the one member who always offers to be the backmarker on our walks (thank you Steve!). However, Irina was the clear winner.

Irina kindly carried another walkers rucksack up a steep hill on the Shropshire trip, when the other walker was struggling, takes fantastic photographs on every walk, and always says “hello” to everyone, being welcoming to new members. Irina also thoughtfully took the initiative to present Jason with a trophy for leading his 50th walk! Thank you Irina – it is a pleasure to have you in the group!

Jason was very proud of his trophy – thank you Irina!