‘Outstanding contribution to walking’ earns award for volunteer

Murray Bridge's Bob England has won a Walking SA award for his work with SA Recreational Trails and the Lavender Federation Trail.

This post was contributed by Graham Hallandal.

Bob England, right, shown receiving his life membership of SA Recreational Trails from Chris Bushell, has been honoured with a Walking SA award. Photo: Supplied by Graham Hallandal.

Walking SA has recognised Murray Bridge’s Bob England for his “outstanding” individual contribution to walking in South Australia.

Mr England was named the only recipient of the outstanding invididual award at a ceremony last Thursday.

However, he was unable to attend, so the award was accepted on his behalf by the chairman of South Australian Recreation Trails Incorporated, Chris Bushell.

Mr England is part of the organisation responsible for building one of Australia’s longest walking trails: the Lavender Federation Trail, which runs 325 kilometres from Murray Bridge to Clare.

The main trail connects to more than 150km of loop and spur trails.

All were built by volunteers over more than 20 years, creating the longest trail network in Australia built entirely by volunteers.

Mr England has been involved in the Lavender Federation Trail – originally called the Federation Trail 1901 – from the time a decision was made to built it.

He took an active part in the organisation of an introductory walk from the Murray Bridge riverfront to Monarto Recreation Reserve in 1999.

An official opening is held at the head of the Lavender Federation Trail – then just the Federation Trail – in 1999. Photo: Supplied by Graham Hallandal.

In October 2001 he was an observer for the Rural City of Murray Bridge at a SARTI board meeting while serving as an elected council member.

Following the resignation from the council of their nominated board member, he agreed to take over the position.

By December of that year, he had become involved in the organisation of the official opening of stage one of the trail, then set down for April the following year.

By February 2002 he had taken over the job of treasurer, a position he still holds today.

As an elected council member, he coordinated interaction between SARTI and the Murray Bridge council, assisting with the identification of landowners adjacent to the proposed route of the trail and the location of unmade road reserves, and took part in work days as the trail was being constructed.

As the trail proceeded, and SARTI accessed funding from sources at all levels of government and donations from clubs and individuals, his oversight and experience was valuable in keeping projects on time and within budget.

Public liability insurance, a large part of SARTI’s annual expenditure, became available through the local government insurer, assisted by Mr England’s local government experience.

SARTI is now in a sound financial position thanks in a large part to Mr England’s guidance and input.

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