Essex County Council Leader Peter Martin, the High Sheriff of Essex Julia Abel Smith, and the Essex Police and Crime Commissioner Nick Alston, will be amongst over 80 walkers taking part in a charity walk on Saturday 20th April.

They will join Rural Community Council of Essex’s (RCCE) team of walkers, headed by its President David Boyle, and Vice Lord Lieutenant of Essex and RCCE Chairman George Courtauld, on a ramble through one of Essex’s most delightful landscapes, the Colne Valley. The purpose is to raise money for the Essex Rural Fund and to increase awareness and support for its aims.

The Essex Rural Fund was set up by RCCE, a charity that works with rural communities across Essex, in 2009 as the centrepiece of its 80th anniversary celebrations. The Fund, which is managed by Essex Community Foundation, is being developed to provide support for community groups and registered charities working in the rural areas of the county. 

Services which are readily accessible in urban areas are often not available in rural communities. RCCE Director Nick Shuttleworth said “There is a long tradition in rural communities of villagers doing things for themselves. The provision of many facilities, such as village halls and play schemes is often wholly dependent on volunteers. With the continued squeeze on public money the need for an independent source of funding is more important than ever to enable communities to provide vital services.”

Supporters have raised over £135,000 so far which has enabled some modest grants to start being made. The goal is to reach   £1 million so that the endowment will provide a source of funding in perpetuity, and as it is entirely dependent on fundraising and donations, events such as the Colne Valley walk are hugely important in getting us towards that goal.

The good news is that because the fund is managed by the Essex Community Foundation, donations can benefit from the Government’s 'Community First Endowment Match Challenge' initiative. This means that the Government will contribute £1 for every £2 donated, providing an added incentive to donors who will see more money for their pounds going into the fund.

Nick Shuttleworth adds “A small amount of money can make all the difference. From village hall improvements, to providing funding for a much needed volunteer-run home support service, the impact of a little money can often make a huge difference to people’s lives.”

The day will take walkers ‘off the beaten path’ with Chairman George Courtauld leading them across his land to Earls Colne, where they will be met by representatives of the Parish Council and Millenium Green Trust who will tell the group a bit about the development of the Green. At the end of the walk the party will have the opportunity to take a private tour around the arboretum at Marks Hall.

For further information about the Essex Rural Fund Colne Valley Walk contact Shelley Labbett on 01376 574330.  Donations to ERF can be made on-line at donations can be sent directly to RCCE, making cheques payable to Essex Community Foundation – Essex Rural Fund. Gift Aid can be claimed on donations from UK taxpayers if permission is given. An Essex Rural Fund donation form is available on the RCCE website.

Essex Community Foundation (reg. charity no. 1052061) manage the Essex Rural fund on behalf of RCCE.