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John on Kinder
John (in the centre) on Kinder in the Winter
John and Betsy on Kinder
John (on the extreme left) With Betsy during the Summer on Kinder again

Betsy With George and John
John With George and Betsy

Betsy In The Stocks (She's Been Up To Something Again!)

Betsy Taking Apre Walk Refreshment

After the Refreshment Off Home She Goes

Betsy With Gordon

Betsy On Holiday in Austria



Betsy lived her early childhood in Sheffield Massachusetts on her families farm where she had a horse and loved to horse ride after school. She also joined the local Brownies or equivalent and said she got thrown out for bad behaviour. She trained as an audio typist and when she met her first husband Geoff they moved to New York to live and work there. They came to Sheffield England in the early sixties as Geoff was from this country and she told me they lived with his parents at first and she could not believe how small the house was compared to those where she lived in America.

Mike Burgin remembers Betsy and Geoff joining the University Staff Walking Group and she enjoyed these rambles and also she was known in the RA. As Betsy's sight got worse and she married her second husband Colin they moved to Frechville where Betsy had stopped working in her mid thirties and became a bored housewife. She decided to move to Stannington leaving Colin over there but still remaining a married couple. This suited Betsy but I do not know about Colin.

The walking group was started by Jill Thompson, Re hab worker with Howden House, and veteran rambler Ted Ellerton, who had just lost his sight. Betsy joined soon after its conception, but not being satisfied with the one walk per month (the Wednesday walk) she set up a small group to go out on Sundays, this included Jean and Gordon and Karen Lavell.

With the advice and help of Jack Burling and John Harker, Jill Thompson arranged a meeting at Jean and Gordon's house where they set about forming committee status to raise funds to cover any out of pocket expenses for the Guides. Betsy became chair and also produced the monthly newsletter. Colin was a great support to our group and used to read on to cassette tape and later on memory stick the newsletter for our VI's who could not access screen readers like we have today on our computers or the I Phone with Voice Over. The first AGM meetings were held at the Queen's Head Pub where there were not many attendees. The next day Betsy would call Jean to ask her what she had said as she had a bit too much to drink to remember.

With two walks per month Betsy would not stop there. One day Frank Milner our Ranger with the Peak Park Rangers wandered into the old Mappin Street building to ask if he could hold a photo exhibition there. Betsy was in at the time and went over to him to ask if he would lead walks for us. Frank agreed and nineteen years later he is still leading walks every other month on Thursday and Mike Jackson leads the alternative Thursday walks. Next came the Tuesday walks which John Bater started and now David Cadet takes these. Betsy now had her four walks per month and any more she could fit in.

Betsy loved nothing more than to go on a ramble, have a meal and a few pints at the end of the walk, then a hot bath when she listened to her talking book, and then a couple of brandies and a cigar. Betsy loved life food and drink.

She also started the group riding with the Northern Pan Riders on their motor bikes and we did this once per year for a few years, she also loved this riding up to the Cat and Fiddle at Buxton.

If it was not for Betsy we would not have had as many walks per month, all down to her hard work and being able to twist folks around her finger. Mary remembers her falling into the conduit at Lodge Moor and just laying there on her back laughing her head off, it took a few of our male guides to pull her out. Another incident when she went up Kinder Scout with Mike Jackson and others it rained and rained all day. To top it all they had to wade through a stream at the end past their knees, most of us would go home to get dry but not our Betsy she went to the pub when back in Sheffield for a meal and a few pints.

Walking through town with her, people would call out to her and she would say "who the hell was that?" Everyone knew her even the Big Issue seller as she always bought one from him even though she could not read the print. Betsy was a colourful character and Jill Thompson once remarked she looked like she had just stepped out of a lucky bag, she was wearing a green hat, yellow jacket, blue trousers and red trainers. I remember her signing up to do a parachute jump for SRSB, she went around the market collecting £700, really looking forward to it she did the training, went up in the plane strapped to her partner ready to jump but she kept getting cramp, so she could not get in the position to jump safely. Her partner said it was not safe to jump and she was very upset. Still SRSB received the £700.

Visiting her flat is like falling down the rabbit hole, like Alice in Wonderland She has dozens of stuffed animals all over the place, her life sized Polar bear "Buddy" taking centre stage in her sitting room, so big you cannot get your arms around it. A Meer Kat is draped over the back of her chair and a Monkey hangs from a door, with others scattered around. She said it was to orientate her around her flat.

When a new CAO came to work for SRSB he was assigned Betsy and went off happily to visit a little old lady called Betsy one Friday afternoon, arriving around 4pm and not leaving until around 7pm. On the Monday he was telling folks in the office, and I remarked if it had been 7 years before, he would not have got out until Monday morning.

Lots more to say and it gives our new members an insight into what Betsy was like, the walks were fun with her on them, they are still fun but not as much as when Betsy was on them!

Our condolences must go to Nigel who was a great support and friend to Betsy enjoying holidays together at Christmas in Tenerife and also her step daughter Pat. The last time I spoke to Betsy she still had a brother in America who she would have loved to visit, and a nephew.

I will sign off with Betsy having the last word as she always ended her newsletter with "see you soon Racoon, over there Brown Bear"



End of an era .... Jill Thompson

Larger than life remembered with a smile making life worthwhile with walks in the countryside. Inspiring VI's saying "get on with it Kid".... Ann and Adrian

I am so sorry to hear the sad news about Betsy, I think it would be fair to say she was a very popular lady. When she stopped walking due to ill health the girls at the Interchange cafe always asked about her. No matter what the challenge was, Betsy rose to it. She will be sadly missed but not forgotten.... David Cadet

When I first joined SVIWG as a guide I had absolutely no idea what to expect. "We will put you with Betsy she will show you the ropes". On that walk around Wyming Brook and the Redmires conduits from Lodge Moor, I found out from this redoubtable lady what guiding the visually impaired on a walk was all about, I always looked forward to guiding her from that day forward, she was always good fun. Betsy was always the first one I looked for on our walks and we shared a love of risky jokes, "mine were always better". I did wonder on that first walk when she fell into the Conduit whether this was a regular occurrence. Happily this was not the case and she just laughed and laughed and carried on regardless. I have missed her on every walk since she was my mentor as a guide a good companion on a walk and many ways she epitomised the strengths of the group and that is why guiding VI's is such a joy. God bless you Betsy and may you be walking those far away hills now, you will be sadly missed by all those who were privileged to be your friends in the SVIWG.... Steve Brown

I always remember how she spoke to people passing bye and promoted the group so enthusiastically. She has already been missed for a long time on the walks and those good friends who visited and helped her so regularly will certainly miss her.... Julie Graham

So so sad to hear of Betsy passing. She was definitely a character and half bless her. Fond memories of walking with her so much to say so interesting guiding her and she always cared and wanted to know about others. Fond memories of holidays with her on a public transport bus one day and her shouting out to Mary if there was an off licence when we got off the bus next to hotel. It was so funny other passengers were in stitches too. Also remembering the car we took her Brian and girlfriend out into Derbyshire in our rolls Royce. We had lunch in bakewell which she insisted on paying for. She was a very generous lady. She was in her element when she sat in front of the roller. Full of questions. Said she felt like royalty. Never forget Betsy she was definitely a one off. Rest in peace lovely lady. We enjoyed our times with you. Xx.... Kate and Peter Blackwell.

When I first came to Sheffield and I didn't know Betsy she invited us to her 80th birthday party which is now a very fond memory. She also made me laugh especially in later years when she got things mixed up and was convinced she was always right.

Last year I was at SRSB on a Thursday and she insisted I join her for lunch every week. We always had a laugh and she was a very good listener and always seemed to find the right words to cheer me up if I was stressed Or Het Up about something. One of the last times I had lunch with her she remembered my promise to take her to the pub and when Bill Skipworth just happened to be there she took no time in dragging him along with us so Harry, Bill and I accompanied her to the pub. She refused lunch and insisted she just needed her beer. I tried all afternoon to get her to have some lunch but she said the beer was her lunch today! The afternoon went very quickly and we all laughed so much with her and I will never forget that day.

When lock down started I phoned her to see how she was And she insisted I go to see her at her house even in the current situation. I will miss our Thursdays very much and will never forget her lively personality.... Carol Adams

I was so sorry to hear of Betsy's passing. She was an amazing lady! I always think of her at the VIP ladies reading group when we would all meet in the Central Library entrance hall before we made our way together through the library to our table. Betsy would invariably make loud train noises as we traversed the library, linked together like carriages with me leading the way. It always amused me!.... Wendy Hudson

Devastating news she was a great leader of the group and invariably made me feel so welcome on our walks together. I will always treasure my memories of a lovely lady with whom I spent so many rewarding experiences. RIP Betsy.... Mike Jackson

For those that knew Betsy, she was a truly inspirational person (and you could always hear her at the interchange welcoming all the walkers she knew, although she couldn't see them). Our lives are the richer for knowing her. She once told me off (jokingly) because she felt cheated when we only did a nine mile walk instead of the ten.' Terry Howard (Sheffield Ramblers)


Llandudno Holiday

The weather was brilliant and so much to do - excellent walks. The photos below show just a few of our days out. The dogs also enjoyed their holiday, even if they do look very tired!

Llandudno Group Photo Doggy Members


The Group Visiting Ecclesall Woodland Discovery Centre

SVIWG in Ecclesall Woolands

A Thursday Walk in the Peak Park with Mike Jackson

SVIWG in the Peak Park with Mike Jackson

SVIWG's May Walk with the Peak Park Rangers

Photographs sent in by Mike Wilson.

SVIWG May Rangers walk

SVIWG May Rangers walk

Christine's March Walk in the Limb Valley on a Lovely Sunny Day

The walkers stop on the bridge at Whirlow Park. Something's making Ken giggle (Janet??)

The Limb Valley March 2018

HATHERSAGE on February's Sunday Walk

Eric uses the stepping stones to cross the stream below Green's House with the help of guides Janet and Mary. Barley the guide dog waits her turn patiently. The walk was led by Mike Wilson.

Hathersage stepping stones


Members of the Rotary Club of Abbeydale and invited guests on their annual David Wortley Memorial Walk which this year took them on a route through the grounds of Chatsworth Park in spectacular January weather with a keen frost and gin-clear visibility.

Pictured at the Hunting Tower and the Cannon Kissing Gate are: SVIWG member Eric with guides, Anne and June together with SRSB Fundraising and Marketing Officer, Jane and her husband Adam.

The Rotary Club of Abbeydale enjoys a close, friendly and supportive relationship with SRSB and SVIWG.

Photos courtesy of Mike Cox, Rotary Club of Abbeydale.

Walking through the Cannon Kissing Gate
The group at the Hunting Tower


On behalf of the group, a cheque for £100 is being received by our treasurer Stan Wainwright from Skipton Building Society's Branch Manager - Allison Edgeler and Christie Ali the Customer Adviser (right) at their Pinstone Street branch.

Skipton Building Society donate a cheque


Chris Gamble with the group The Group's walkers visited Firth Bank, Wincobank with leader Chris Gamble

Our Fund Raising Visit to Morcambe Bay Photo Sheffield Royal Society for the Blind - Autumn 2015

Members Getting Wet!

Getting Very Wet! Photo SRSB - Autumn 2015

walking in the snow

Walking in the winter snow
photo by Eric (Chairman) (2010)

Eric in glider with pilot

Member, Eric Andrews and his pilot preparing for take-off in their glider.
(Nov 2010)

Sylvia and Jean=

Sylvia and Jean
photo by Xin Chang (Nov 2011)

back marker Jack=

The backmarker Jack and his wife Ann enjoying their walk
photo by Xin Chang (Nov 2011)

Photos for the Gallery

If you have any photographs of the group that you would like to show on our website: www.sviwg.co.uk, please let me know. Christine Whittaker synedramblers@gmail.com.
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