HELEN Leitch might not be here if it wasn’t for the Huddersfield Rucksack Club.
The Almondbury woman’s parents met through the club, which turns 80 this week.
Andrew Leitch and Hilda Shaw first met on a ramble in the late 1930s and were married in 1943. Helen was born a few years later.
She said: “The club was always there in the background when I was growing up. I can vaguely remember sitting in my pushchair at Snittlegate near Hade Edge during the 20th anniversary celebrations.”
Sixty years on, Helen is president of the club as it prepares to mark its 80th birthday.
She said: “It was set up in 1930 by six men and it’s organised a walk pretty much every week since then, summer and winter.”
Members take part in walks of between six and 20 miles. In the summer the club holds a local ramble on a weekday evening before venturing further afield at the weekends.
Members walked around Meltham last night and will travel up to Wensleydale in the Yorkshire Dales on Sunday.
Helen, 62, said: “We also have two hosteling weekends each year when we go to the Lake District, Scotland or North Wales. And we organise an easy-paced walk every Thursday morning for retired people.”
Helen believes the club plays a valuable role in members’ lives.
She said: “We get to enjoy the outdoor scenery, experience our local heritage and stay fit and healthy.”
Duncan Smith, 80, agrees that the club is good for you. The Emley man joined after he completed his National Service in 1953.
Duncan described running the gauntlet of gamekeepers during his early days as a rambler.
He said: “It was a particular problem at Ramsden Clough near Holmfirth. The gamekeepers would shout at us and threaten us.
“They would tell us we shouldn’t be there but we would tell them it was open country and we were keeping away from the grouse.
“I remember one occasion when a gamekeeper tried to hit one of our members, Jack Ramsden, with a stick.
“Jack was a big man so he just picked up the gamekeeper and told him ‘we’re not doing any harm’.”
Duncan has served on the club’s committee since 1958, including spells as secretary, vice-president and president.
“I’m still waiting to have a go at treasurer,” Duncan joked.
Huddersfield Rucksack Club will hold an 80th anniversary celebration on Saturday, July 17 at Stocksmoor Village Hall.
Anyone interested in joining the club can visit www.huddersfieldrucksackclub.org.uk.
Step back in time Huddersfield Rucksack Club members have enjoyed local scenery and visited local heritage sites for decades (S)