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by Claire Allison

Brian Illingworth told Timaru’s Wanderers Walk Group that he’d give them four years as president.

The retired tanker driver has just stepped down after 19.

Taking over the role, and becoming just the third president in the group’s 32-year history, is Timaru man Selwyn Prattley.

Mr Illingworth will remain part of the group, and has become one of only four life members, joining Judith Illingworth, Adriane Marshall and Bill Wilkes.

Mrs Illingworth joined the group while Mr Illingworth was still working as a tanker driver for Caltex.

“When I took early retirement, I had to do something .. ”

The Wanderers had its beginnings in a YWCA walking group, and then evolved into today’s mixed gatherings.

With 70 members ranging in age from 60s to 90s, about 35 turn up each Thursday morning to walk and talk and socialise.

“Everybody is welcome, but you’ve generally got to be retired to be able to do weekday walks. And it’s your choice as to whether you turn up or not, we don’t keep records or things like that.”

The group meets each week in the car park at the bottom of the Port Loop Rd, and then departs all together to the starting point for the week’s walk.

“The first and third weeks of the month, we have a “town walk”, from 9.30am to 12pm, and then we have lunch together.

“Alternate weeks, we have could be anywhere, and can walk three and a-half to four hours.”

It has been a priority to ensure that walks are run in such a way that everybody can join in, and high vis vests are de rigueur to ensure walkers’ safety.

Each walk splits members into three groups, who go at their own pace.

“The ones in the front will do at least 9-10km, the back group 4km or so.”

Mr Illingworth says he hasn’t added up the number of kilometres group members walk in the course of a year – “I wouldn’t be game!”

The Wanderers Walk Group meets every Thursday at 9.30am at the car park at the bottom of the Port Loop Rd, and heads off to the walk’s starting point as a group from there.