About Us

Last updated: Wed 8 Dec 2021

Essex Stragglers Orienteering Society (SOS) was formed in 1968 and centres its activities in North East Essex. Our membership base extends from Chelmsford to Colchester and Sudbury to Southend.


Membership is drawn from north and east Essex (the areas furthest from London) and from south Suffolk. We serve a smaller population than many of the larger orienteering clubs, but we are always keen to expand our membership. We have members of all ages, backgrounds and abilities - you will be made most welcome. See the Membership page for details on how you can join.

Aims and Objectives

The club's aims are to provide the best quality events on the areas available to us, to develop every member's orienteering, to introduce lots of new people to the sport, and to have fun. These objectives are described in a rather dry form in the Society's Constitution.

Each year we try to arrange -


The Stragglers started orienteering during season 1966/7 from a base at the Robert Beard Youth Centre in Hornchurch Essex. An invitation to tell me more prompted this informative email from Derek Keeble.

Hi Webmaster,
Papers relating to pre-1970 Straggler activity were passed to me, when I was an active Straggler, say 1978. These were handed on to the late Mike Powell-Davis when it became inappropriate for me to possess them, say 1984.

Before then I do not recall noticing the initals "S O S" in result lists until about 1968. I assumed the youths of Robert Beard Club straggled in to the finish funnels in unpredictable order, and that they called themselves a society merely to claim familiar distressing initials. But you guessed that too didn't you? Then-abouts a pop cult called The Stranglers, I am told, was emitting noises to the young; its influence upon the name choice is beyond assessment by me.

During 1970 I was one of six who met in Kings Lynn with a view to giving East Anglia the benefit of O. We formed an East Anglian Club, mounted some sporadic events and soon became an Association of Clubs; one Norfolk and one Suffolk.

Meanwhile Hornchurch's Robert Beard Club acquired a non-orienteering warden who saved his members' legs from received further bashing by brambles.

Suffoc, with an early map of Rendlesham Forest by me, became anxious to off-load me to my native but orienteering-naked county. During 1972 I attended a HAVOC event and declared my intent to revamp the then defunct S.O.S, and was duly joined by a powerful Bangor Backwoodsman called Jack Isbester.

Later, to mark the re-generation, we adopted "Essex" into the title, and the late Bill Stevens obtained the okay to deploy the three seaxes within our emblem.

I am very pleased with Straggler achievements 1972-84, but get even more delight from the sequenced progress from controls numbered 1984 to 2006. This information is sent so you may use it if you wish, it is not an attempt by me to get my name on your website. I like to be usefully forgotten. Congratulations. Enjoyed the website Keep happy feet, Derek Keeble