Founded 1907

Consett and Vale of Derwent Naturalist Field Club

Jenny Wade

  Jenny Wade Memorial  
 
Jenny who died a few weeks before her 96th birthday, could recall those pre-war days when Joe Rosenburg led Rambler Association (RA.) groups over the moors and hills of Northumberland Walking until towards tea-time when, in a suitably sheltered and wooded spot a camp fire would be lit to brew up a welcome, if smoky cuppa.

Jenny's father Fred had joined the R.A. in the early 1950's and was in 1966, aged 80, granted honorary life membership. He became one of the founder members of the Annfield Plain Naturalist's Society having been invalided out of the army in 1942 after losing an eye in conflict.
He was a passionate walker and observer of wildlife, noting down for the future what he saw in the area of NW. Durham where he lived. Jenny was only 7 years old when her mother died and widower Fred would take his daughter along with him, her older sister being content to stay at home.
So from this early age Jenny must have become familiar with footpaths, the enjoyment of walking and observing and learning.
Jenny left school at 14 and went on walking and cycling, perhaps helping her father to sort out all his nature notes which in retirement he typed onto separate A4 sheets. These were later bound into various volumes according to the specific area of Derwentside covered. The most detailed and useful was "The natural history of the Upper Derwent Valley, Bolts Law to Hownsgill: people places, wildlife". This was issued in 2 volumes the first in 1967 and the second in 1975. By the early years of the millennium all copies had disappeared even from the local library, so Jenny was delighted when the friends of Annfield Plain Library asked her permission to arrange for a reprint, knowing they would get funding.
This reprint appeared in 2008 and a copy is in The Newcastle Lit. & Phil. Library available for consultation by anybody who goes there.

Jenny described having rides in her youth to the Lake District with Youth Hostel stops en route. Such trips and lifelong coach outings with the R.A. Annfield Plain Naturalists and the Consett Field Club gave Jenny the knowledge of market towns and walking areas throughout the North of England and the Borders. She was always acquiring information on local history and paths her first port of call on any coach "coffee" stop was the Tourist Information Centre. Endowed as she was with an excellent memory we who walked with her in later years gained much benefit from her knowledge.

When Jenny retired she became more active in the R.A. helping in 1980 with planning the Heritage Walk around Newcastle. This project, funded by Tyne & Wear County Council and planned in consultation with and help from the Ramblers Association was part of the R.A. 50th anniversary celebrations. This included local promotional walks for the general public in Newcastle, one of them being from Wylam to Whickham, section 1 of the Heritage Walk. Jenny was one of the leaders on a lovely day in May (I think), the local MP David Clark Honorary President of the Northern Area Ramblers Association (I think) walked most of the way.
I regret to say after 12 miles most newcomers had had enough and it was decided to stop on some bus route about 3 miles short of Whickham. I hope others beside myself were thus encouraged to join the R.A.

In 1988 another R.A. recruiting campaign in Jenny's home area of Derwentside resulted in the formation of our Derwentside group of which Jenny became the first walk leader. She led many walks in those first years always ready to help planning a walk with other leaders around the region with the group by then in a very healthy state.
Many will remember when it became our turn to host the  Area AGM  her coming to the chosen venue at Lanchester Community Centre. Refusing offers of a lift to Lanchester, Jenny aged 89 arrived by bus her usual mode of transport.

Jenny's help was needed again in the first years of the millennium when rights-of-way activists in Northumberland and County Durham sought historical evidence of a bridge over the River Derwent near Muggleswick. This bridge linked Durham foot path 19 with Northumberland bridleway 22 at a spot where the river is wide and shallow, safe to wade in the dry season but not all year round.
There were meetings, site visits, letter in "Durham Town & Country", a photo of the late Tony Jones in mid stream in waders with water up to his knees. Jenny provided a tiny black and white photo (30's or 40's vintage) showing the chain bridge used by scouts and walkers. There was also a bridge which was mentioned by Fred in his "Upper Derwent Valley" although only from oral evidence rather than printed sources. By then money, if ever there had been any, ran out so still no Muggleswick bridge.

During her last summer friends were glad to see Jenny out on some of the coach excursions selected where she would find opportunities to do shorter walks or town trails suiting her reduced mobility.
Her last illness after a stroke was mercifully short. Ramblers from Derwentside and Newcastle joined the few family mourners who gathered at Mountsett Crematorium to say goodbye to a lovely lady who had given such pleasure over the years to those who walked with her.
It chanced to be a glorious December day and as we exchanged our memories of Jenny we looked over the beautiful Derwent Valley whose paths she had so often walked.
A poem which children of Jenny's generation (and mine) learned at school was recited at the end of the simple Humanist service, perhaps summing up her attitude to life.
 
  "What is this life, if full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare... ..."
 
  Memorial written by Sheila Jefferies