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News > Recent news > Arthur Foden 1921-2014

We were saddened to discover early in the year that our group President Arthur Foden had passed away on Christmas Eve.

He had been our president for many years and was an experienced walk leader. Roger Gibbs, who knew him as a friend, has written the following tribute.

Arthur Foden 1921-2014

In the early 1970's, I boarded the coach for my first Sunday ramble. There were just 2 seats available, one next to Arthur Foden and one by Ken Begg. It transpired that Arthur and Ken were great friends, and together with Fred Willits, led most of the rambles for what was then "The Midland Area of the Ramblers' Association", the forerunner of the City of Birmingham Group.

For the next 40 years I counted Arthur as a good friend, walking companion, and fount of experience and knowledge of maps, the countryside, local history, and footpath navigation.

Arthur was born and bred in Oldbury, and worked as a toolmaker. He was a very private person, quiet, unassuming, but always pleasant and helpful. He was an intelligent man, regularly completing the Times crossword, and taught himself German to quite a high standard, particularly useful for his continental walking holidays. He made full use of the local lending library, and was never without books on local history, travel, and the lives of interesting characters, particularly those with local connections. He loved classical music and ballet, often accompanying Ken to concerts in Birmingham.

His early life was family oriented, but in his early 40's he joined the Rambler's Association and found his true passion. He adored map and compass work, and told me that his best ever holiday was on Dartmoor, locating "letterboxes" for which that area is renowned. He quickly became one of the stalwarts of the Group, and led for the Rambler's Association for 40 years or so.

Arthur's first lead was called "Waterwheels", a 12 mile walk on July 7th 1968. The coach fare was 9/6d (47.5 new pence!) and there was a pub lunch with hot pies available if booked 11 days prior to the ramble. A tea shop had also been arranged for the end of the ramble, but one's own tea could be left on the coach. If tea was required, it was necessary to state it when booking. Coach seats had to be booked at least nine days in advance, and failing sufficient bookings the coach would be cancelled.

His next walk was called "Autumn colours (Bring your camera!)", followed by a series of wild flower walks – Daffodil Ramble, Autumn Crocus Ramble, Lily of the Valley Ramble, Bluebell Ramble, Primrose Ramble, Snowdrop Ramble, and then his series "With the Malverns in View", "With Clent in View", "With the Clees in View", "With the Abberley’s in View" - always something a little different. Although a quiet and excellent leader, he did have a mischievous sense of humour, typified by letting the faster members of the party get ahead of the leader just prior to a sharp turn from the direct route ahead. They then had red faces when they realised that they'd been "had" yet again and ended up at the back of the party!

Arthur was awarded the first Presidency of our Group in recognition of his services over the years, and on his 90th birthday was provided with his free coach pass, unfortunately not over-used. His final years were spent quietly at home with his books, music, crosswords, and occasional TV. Local social services personnel complimented him on the excellent state of maintenance and order of his home during a visit in the Autumn of 2013. He was proud to tell them that it was all his own work, but it did mean that he did not qualify for the sheltered accommodation that he had hoped for.

In 2014, Arthur was taken into hospital, had a pacemaker fitted, and was eventually transferred into a nursing home in Oldbury. He died peacefully in hospital on Christmas Eve, 2014.

Roger Gibbs.


This page was up to date on 01/04/2017.