ISLE of Wight Ramblers are ensuring the Island is a paradise for walkers — and they were commended for it on the group's 50th anniversary.

The day, last Saturday, started with seven organised walks, varying from two to 20 miles, all culminating at Rookley Village Hall for a celebratory afternoon.

Around 120 members and guests were joined by Isle of Wight High Sheriff Gioia Minghella Giddens, national chair of Ramblers Kate Ashbrook, and deputy lieutenant of the Isle of Wight, Patricia Partridge.

Ms Ashbrook said: "I congratulate the Isle of Wight Ramblers on their 50th anniversary. Over that time they have achieved great things for walkers on the Island.

"When Joan Simpson (later Deacon) established the group in 1968 the Island's paths were an obstacle course, but the Ramblers worked with the council to get the paths opened up and recognised as an asset for residents and visitors.

"Now the paths contribute massively to the Island as a tourist destination.

"But our job is not yet done. In these times of austerity the Ramblers are needed more than ever.

"Our working group helps to keep paths clear and walkable, and we have a team of volunteers identifying the best route around the Island for the coastal path and access.

"I am confident the Ramblers will continue to be a powerful force for good on the Island, ensuring that it can be a paradise for walkers."

A commendation was awarded to Jackie and Tim Hough for 30 years' exceptional work, and Mike Marchant received a commendation for 20 years' work as area secretary, chair and footpath secretary.

A new book was launched at the event, Twelve Rambles by Bus, on the Isle of Wight, featuring spectacular landscapes and historical facts.

David Howarth, chair of Isle of Wight Ramblers, said: "We really appreciate the financial support provided by Southern Vectis and IW Council which made the production of this book possible."

A new permissive path was also opened, connecting Rookley Village with The Chequers Inn.

The Ramblers worked with the village association and landowners to install three new gates, including a special 50th anniversary gate, providing an attractive, safe route over the fields.