When the idea of setting up a group of people to support the English I.M.L.Waendel Walk was first considered in 1988, the aim was simply to list those individuals who would undertake to be present in order to help with whatever work was necessary to ensure the smooth running of the event. The suggestion that we form a "proper " club followed very soon. However, it was agreed that membership would only be granted to those individuals who were prepared to help with marshalling the Waendel Walk, and this qualification for membership was adhered to quite strictly for the first year or so.
No membership fee was required at that time. The club name resulted from another
coincidence. For a number of years I had been taking part in an annual hockey festival in Belgium, and taking groups of players from Kettering and Corby clubs. We wanted a name which reflected our origins and because the Ise River flows between the two towns, we became the Ise Valley Vagrants. The initials "IVV" means rather more to walkers than to hockey players and a simple adjustment to the name gave us the "Ise Valley Vagabonds".
Before adopting the name I contacted Horst Volkmer (president of the IVV) to find out if there was any reason why a club should not have the same initials as the parent organisation. His reply was that it would be a good advertisement for the Internationaler Volkssport Verband. It was not long before members asked for more flexibility as a good many people wanted to support us but could not guarantee their assistance at Waendel. The "help" rule was relaxed. At the same time we began to produce a rather more comprehensive club news medium, The Vagabond Times. The cost of producing and distributing this missive made it necessary to make some form of charge so a membership fee was introduced for that purpose.
One of our members, Mac McGowan, produced the Vagabond logo which we adopted, and our committee members came up with some excellent ideas for events and for saleable articles to boost our finances. Items of clothing were designed and made in Wellingborough and sold to members at a small profit.
Our treasurer Roy Sheriff made an interest-free loan to the club to enable the purchase of these items in the first place and while growth was not spectacular the club began to gain support. Most clubs derive the bulk of their income from the proceeds of a major annual event .Our "major" event was to assist with the Waendel Walk which produced no income at all, instead we established a number of minor walks which kept us solvent -just!
We initiated a " Life Fund". Individuals who opted to become life members by paying a lump sum of £35 financed this fund, it was kept separate from other money and used for major purchases. Once the items had been sold the money was replaced (any profit going into the club current account) and made available for the next major need.
Our programme became quite extensive with Winter and Summer series walks, Cambridge Canter (organised by Mac McGowan) a 4- evening event (Vagabond Foursome) and a walking weekend in Daventry, the Danetre Doddle and Dawdle.
To these were added an event to support Ronald McDonald House and the Nene ValleyVenture where we assisted the Scouts in organising their event.
It was owing to the initiative of some of our members that the Waendel Walk was admitted to membership of the International Marching League. Not content with these activities, as at 1st. January 2012, we will have established 17 Permanent Trails in :- Wellingborough, Kettering, London Hampstead, London Earls Court area, Stratford-upon - Avon, Oxford, Stamford , Kings Lynn, Warwick, The Queen of Hearts, Daventry, The Lawrence Sheriff Trail, Rugby, Marston Vale Millenium Country Park Trail, Beds, Marston Vale Timberland Trail, The King William IV Trail, Beds, The Bedford River Walk, Bedford, The Bedford Country Park and Town Trail and The Rushden and Higham Ferrers Trail. These anytime walks, most of about 10km prove to be quite popular among foreign visitors especially as no advance registration is necessary and IVV stamps and awards can be claimed by post. All route descriptions and claim forms can be downloaded from our website. (See home page Permanent Trails).
Relations with clubs on the European mainland has blossomed thanks to Wandertours, a self-financing group of members and friends who have visited events in Belgium (mainly), Holland, Luxembourg and Germany, for weekends of walking and social pleasures.
At the same time they distributed publicity materials about British events particularly The Waendel Walk, and are largely responsible for its increasing numbers of foreign participants. Members also participate regularly in other IML events; especially those that are more easily accessible like Blankenberge, Diekirch and Nijmegen. In fact, Vagabonds have participated in most of the IML events.
This also accounts for the wide spread of Vagabond members! They have lived in Australia, Japan, Sweden, Switzerland, Holland, Belgium, Germany, USA, Denmark, Jersey and even Wellingborough! It also makes meeting with all club members impossible. On the other hand every walk, every Wandertour is a meeting of sort and with the large number of events held each year and the information in Vagabonds Times, few members did not know what was going on.
As practitioners of the IVV ethos, fun fitness and friendship, there can be few more dedicated clubs than Ise Valley Vagabonds!