Some will say “Who?”
Some will say, “Oh no, not him again!”
Who am I?
I’m 54, happily married to Karen for 34 years, two grown-up children, Francesca (passed Advanced Car Test), Christopher (passed Advanced Bike Test) and a member of the Club even though he lives in Cardiff. I’ve been a member of TVAM since the mid-90’s.
When we moved to Reading from Essex, Karen said “Why don’t you join a bike club?” I had a look at local Honda Owners Club, then spoke to Dave Simmons the then Membership Secretary (1st tour of duty), who said “Come along”. So I did, and joined on the spot. It was an extremely friendly club of about 300 regulars.
I had started my motorcycling career at sixteen on a Yamaha FS1E moped. My Mum and Dad said I could have one as long as I got trained. I did an RAC-ACU course at Ilford Amateur Motor Club in north east London, passed the 12-week course and was asked back as a Trainee Instructor. On the following course was a nice young lady called Karen, who was also asked back – the rest, they say, is history!
I passed my IAM Motorcycle test at seventeen and three months on a Honda CB250-G5. I qualified as an Instructor on the RAC-ACU Scheme and then became a Team Leader. I spent some time as a STEP Motorcycle Instructor at the London Borough of Newham and then came back to Ilford, where I was a founder member of the Staggered Diamonds Advanced M/C Club – named after the Police Squad formation when riding as a ‘four-ball’. I was a founder Observer with North East London & Essex IAM Group.
I have been fortunate enough to have always had a motorcycle – Yamaha, Kawasaki, Honda, and lately BMW. It’s been my stress-buster. As Karen and I met riding bikes, she knows how much pleasure I get from riding and does not object when I am off out.
I was asked by Ian Garrard (former Chief Observer) if I would like to be Observer Training Co-ordinator, a role which I did for 5 years and then was asked by Richard Tickner and Chris Caswell if I would consider being Chief Observer, which I accepted, and did from 2005 to 2010, with Nigel Taylor as Chair. At the end of my five year stint (ten including Training Co-ordinator) I said a large “PHEW”!
Since then I have remained involved with TVAM, assisting with Observing, Observer Health Checks, Enhanced Advanced, Observer Validations, with Track Guide assistance at TVAM Track Training Days, IAM Region 2 Training Team, IAM Bike-to-Bike Radio Framework, and coaching Associates for the Advanced test. I am an IAM National Observer with Level 3 Radio qualification.
What is TVAM, and what does it mean to me?
Well, since I joined in the mid-90’s, TVAM has steadily grown to around 1,000 members, with about 150 Observers, 250 Associates in training, 400-450 Full members of the Green Team, 100+ test passes per year, and an annual turnover of about £85,000-£90,000.
The answer to the first part of the question is just numbers; the second part is much more personal. Apart from family, TVAM has been one of the most pleasurable parts of my life. It has been motorcycling personified. I once described TVAM as a “motorcycle club that also does advanced training”.
Most IAM groups concentrate on getting Associates through the test, the rest being an afterthought. TVAM manages to generate a family feel, is very friendly and welcoming (although I think we could always perhaps do a little more!) and manages a high level of membership retention. Why? Well, I think it’s that personal connection between like-minded souls and the love of two wheels and an engine!
Since we moved to Reading, my friends are almost exclusively from TVAM – including TVAM and motorcycling events and other social activities.
TVAM: “Probably the best Advanced Motorcycle Club in the UK”?
Well in my opinion,
NO! IT IS THE BEST!
Can we do better?
Well yes we can, and TVAM has always tried to improve and lead from the front.
Why have I stood for Chair, having been Chief Observer?
In a nutshell, unfortunately, no-one else threw their hat into the ring. The four main roles in TVAM; Chief Observer, Treasurer, Company Secretary, and Chair have a five year maximum tenure, something I wholeheartedly support and we need fresh ideas and energy in these roles on a regular basis.
I am aware that since I joined TVAM modern lives are more hectic and people’s time is precious. I believe that priorities should be family, work, and then TVAM. Nevertheless, there are many volunteers who give their time freely to TVAM to support all that it does and I personally, and on behalf of all of TVAM, thank them for what they do. Never underestimate the time (and in some cases personal expense) that people put in for the Club. May I paraphrase a much-used expression? “Ask not what TVAM (and the IAM) can do for you, ask what you can do for TVAM (and the IAM)?”
TVAM is highly regarded within the IAM and exerts its influence as much as possible. I will do all I can to increase this effort. Not all they do is as targeted as many of us would like, but they are trying, and I will do all in my power to steer their energies to the best for TVAM and Advanced Motorcycling.
A wise old friend in the Club said soon after I had joined “It’s got to be FUN!” I think it is and we need your help to keep it being fun and to continue the great success it already is.
TVAM depends on energetic, enthusiastic, passionate individuals to keep the Club at the front of the queue for all we do! So come on… what are you waiting for? We need your support, enthusiasm, fresh ideas and energy! How about it?
I look forward to being your Chair; I am hoping for not too long, when my successor can continue to lead the Club onwards and upwards!