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Tonbridge and Malling Ramblers pay tribute to founder Dave Wetton on his retirement

Three national lockdowns have seen an increase in people enjoying the 4,200 miles of Kent’s countryside and coastal paths, whether walking in pairs or household groups.

Between lockdowns, the Tonbridge and Malling Ramblers Association (TMRA) was keen to encourage an interest in walking, particularly along the North Downs Way, the Greensand Way and the Weald Way which pass through its area.

Dave Wetton is retiring
Dave Wetton is retiring

Many who have taken the walks can be grateful for the efforts of one veteran rambler, Dave Wetton.

In 1975, Mr Wetton moved from South West London to Hadlow and became a founder member of TMRA.

He has held many roles with the group over the last 45 years, including chairman, but has now announced his retirement from the group’s committee.

As a local footpath officer for the association, he had always been determined to mitigate attempts to divert or expunge rights of way within Tonbridge and Malling.

That had sometimes involved delicate negotiations between landowners, Kent County Council, ramblers and others, and sometimes going to a public inquiry.

Mr Wetton, 77, said: “I’m passionate about protecting rights of way for walkers.

"It doesn’t just happen; it requires collective effort by ramblers members and others, to ensure all paths are walked and checked regularly so that problems such as blocked paths can be resolved to ensure good access for everyone.”

He has also been a dedicated walk leader - and in less restrained times has arranged away-day walks and short walking holidays with his wife Caroline.

Now suffering from failing eyesight, Mr Wetton has decided to hand over to others.

The association's current chairman Neil Whittall said: "We thank you Dave for your years of dedicated service to the rambling community, and for your friendship.”

The TMRA has 230 members. More information can be found here.

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Read more: All the latest news from Malling

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