A year ago a long held plan was put into action by Pete Burling, North Wales GOC’s previous group co-ordinator, to invite the BBC’s Radio 4 “Ramblings” programme to join us on one of our events. A letter was penned and the producer confirmed they were looking to record a programme for the new series in North Wales, but they advised that 3 other walking groups had also contacted them and that the BBC would have to assess which group would make the most interesting episode for their listeners. After a few phone calls from the production team based in Birmingham the BBC decided that the North Wales GOC was the most interesting and enthusiastic group and the plan became a date.
On Wednesday 20th January 2010, 20 North Wales members, plus David White, the club’s national chairperson, gathered at Cemaes Bay on the north coast of Anglesey for the programme’s recording. Now entering it’s 14th series “Ramblings” has been a feature of Radio 4’s schedule for over 10 years and is presented by Clare Balding, one of the BBC’s principle sports presenters, best known for horse racing and for being a key figure in the BBC’s team for the last 3 Olympics and Paralympics. The group was introduced to Clare and the producer/sound recorder Lucy Lunt, although Lucy already knew many of the names of personalities there as a researcher had called many of us in order to plan the “flavour” of the show. Prior to setting off Pete outlined to us all and the pole mounted microphone, our 5 mile walk along the coastal path east of the village over the high cliffs to Porth Wen and Lucy explained how the recording would be made.
So booted and well wrapped up against the cold wind and slight drizzle we set off. Recording began almost immediately with Clare chatting to the majority of our group whilst Lucy balanced the microphone in between to catch every word. Apparently they like the sound of heavy breathing that goes with a hearty ramble and to pick up the group’s background chatter and laughter whilst talking one to one. They certainly got lots of laughter for the mood was for having fun and enjoying a great hike and Clare and Lucy were skilled at making us all feel relaxed, sharing in our banter and jokes.
Pete chose the Cemaes coastal path for the show as it is one of our group’s favourite walks along Anglesey’s coastline and being relatively easy with just moderate ups and downs meant it was a good one to show the diversity of people who are GOC members. The group was nicely balanced between men and women, youthful and retired, with new members and those who could just remember the founding walks. Clare’s recorded conversations with us all were very varied in topic and covered who the GOC are, the scenery, the wildlife and for some, personal reflections on their life’s journey.
At the end of the walk Clare and Lucy did us the honour of saying we were one of the best groups they had ever shared a day with. We thought yeah yeah they say that to everyone, but not so, for the following day Lucy emailed to say, “I have had such a happy morning cutting the programme we made yesterday and re-living such a memorable day. We have been making Ramblings for over ten years, but our walk on Anglesey with you all, was a real highlight of the last decade.” It was a very special day for us all, great fun, great publicity for our club and an event to be remembered for a long time to come.
Huge thanks to Pete for making it happen.
The programme was broadcast in February and is available to listen to on the BBC Radio 4 website at www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00qr46q, you can also play or save an MP3 file of the broadcast using this button: MP3 File
Report by Clive C ; Photos by Andrew C.