Several members of the Wayfarers Rambling Group were able to attend the Service of Thanksgiving in Barton Methodist Church on November 17 2006 for Don Ainley, who had died the previous week. For those of us who had only known him through our monthly walks, the tributes paid to him by representatives of family and church served to highlight how sketchy was our knowledge of him. Of course, we had surmised that he was a highly gifted, yet practical, man: all the same, it was tantalising to find our guesses being confirmed. We learned of a Yorkshireman passionate about sport, committed to education, engaged in continual projects and, above all, devoted to his family. We heard of his ability to adapt to changing patterns and acquire new skills, an enthusiasm for photography and internet technology providing fine examples. If those worshipping in the church that day needed evidence of this we were given it in our hands: for, printed on the front of the service leaflet, was one of his superb photographs which some of us had seen on BBC's 'Look North'.
Don helped to start the Wayfarers Rambling Group and, following the departure of Deacon Christine Milne, he became its main inspiration. Christine had first conceived the possibility of the Group, one of its aims being to bring together folk connected with churches in deanery and circuit. Somewhat loosely organised prior to her departure, Don later took it in hand and gave it shape and direction. Though prepared to lead walks himself he was keen for others to share the responsibility. His enthusiasm for Wayfarers spurred him to maintain a list of contacts both within and beyond the Group, to record notes of planning meetings, and to publicise our programme of rambles. He and Margaret, his wife, opened their home for our committee to meet. He took upon himself the task of weaving the strands which have made Wayfarers into what it has become. We may now have to unravel those strands and take responsibility for each of them ourselves; and, no doubt, in the process of doing so, we shall come to admire how much he did. Thank you, Don, for your inspiration and friendship, just two of your qualities which will live on in the Group you helped to form.