Walkers are Welcome logoWhitchurch was successful in gaining accreditation to the Walkers are Welcome national town network in October, becoming the first town to represent both the North Hampshire Downs and the Test River Valley.

Last Saturday, representatives from the various local community groups and businesses that had shown support for the campaign came together in the town square to celebrate the official launch of Whitchurch Walkers are Welcome and present the accreditation award to the Mayor Councillor Barry Jackman.

Walkers are welcome in Whitchurch!

Walkers are welcome in Whitchurch!

Denyse Coles Chairman of the Whitchurch Association spoke about the scheme and the economic benefits of becoming an accredited member;

“The Walkers are Welcome national town network is a community led scheme endorsed by the Ramblers Association and Visit England to help raise the profile of towns and parishes that offer excellent walking opportunities, but lack the high profile of the national parks and tourist hotspots.

There are now over a hundred Walkers are Welcome towns in the country and a further 13 currently working towards accreditation.

Whitchurch is the first town to represent both the North Hampshire Downs and the Test River Valley. There were 6 key criteria to meet for accreditation and we were thrilled to hear that our application was considered to be one of the strongest they had received. The fact that we have two thriving walking groups in the town, regularly walking the local footpaths and trails carried a lot of weight in the case we put forward for membership.”

Denyse Coles Chairman of the Whitchurch Association presented the Walkers are Welcome award to the Mayor and Mayoress.

Denyse Coles Chairman of the Whitchurch Association presented the Walkers are Welcome award to the Mayor and Mayoress.

The Mayor thanked all those that had given their time to contribute to the campaign and a special mention was given to our local transport providers South West Trains and Stagecoach South for endorsing our application; South West Trains were represented last Saturday by Mr Nick Dorey Senior Operations Project Leader.

“On behalf of the Town Council I would like to thank all those townsfolk who really pulled together in what became a true community effort; The Evening Ramblers, the Walking for Health group, the Churches Together group, The World Wide Whitchurch committee, the Guides & Scouts, the Woman’s Institute, the local website team, local businesses and councillors.

They carried out with enthusiasm so much to gain this award;  completing petitions, litter picking, undertaking footpath surveys and clearance were just a few of the many ways in which we were able to showcase our town.”

A schedule of work will begin early in the spring, litter picking and tidying up the footpaths in and around town. If you would like to become involved, young or the less young, community groups or councillors, please contact the Whitchurch Association c/o the Gill Nethercott Centre.