Welcome to my first ‘From The Chair’ piece. As I take over the reins from Andy Slater, I’d like to say a huge thank you to him for all of the years of service that he has given to the Committee. Andy’s achievements have been an inspiration to me and I hope that I can continue to steer the Club in a forward thinking manner for the benefit of all.

One of the Committee’s aims for 2021 is that we become more visible to you. We are Club members too, the only difference is that we have offered our services to a role in the Club that will benefit everyone. Whilst we can’t meet you face to face at St Crispin’s just yet we can see you within your social groups at your virtual meetings and allow you and us to put the faces to the names. I thought therefore that I would take this opportunity to tell you a little about myself and my journey in motorcycling.

Like a lot of teenagers, I started my riding career messing around off road as a kid on old bikes that my mates had cobbled together. Safety was of no real importance as we messed about in the fields around my home. In March 1986 I progressed to riding as a learner in London, (where I worked) and Kent, where I returned at weekends on my Honda Superdream. Training was limited in those days and the words, “Here are the keys, good luck”, were all that you needed to be allowed onto the road as a learner rider. I passed my full motorcycle competency test in October 1986 and I have had a bike ever since, riding as often as possible.

My introduction to the IAM, and subsequently TVAM, was whilst working my day job as a designer in the late 1990’s. I was involved in the design of the IAM’s Headquarters in Chiswick, under the watchful eye of Christopher Bullock who was the CEO at the time. I used to ride into Chiswick once a week for design meetings with Christopher and his team. At the official opening of the building, in 2001, Christopher awarded me with a Skills for Life Package and his words, “You have the best IAM bike club on your doorstep and you should join them and take your advance test.”

It was four years later, in 2005, with the voucher expired, that I finally walked through the doors of St Crispin’s. I went to an open day in May of that year, where I met Andy Hunter. We had a short chat and then went out for an observed ride. I was immediately hooked by the professionalism and friendliness of the club and signed up that day. Simon Whatley was my Observer and guided me through to my X-Check with Steve Huckins. I went on to pass my IAM test in February 2006.

I started on the programme of becoming a Trainee

Observer (TOb) immediately, only having to set that aside as I started my own business and didn’t have the time             to commit. I went back to that in 2012, gaining my gold badge in 2013. As a sideline, I became a down-trained CBT Instructor in 2010 for a friend’s motorcycle school in Surrey. In 2018 I set myself three targets to develop myself. First, I took and passed my National Observer assessment. Second, I joined the Training Team. Third, I became a fully qualified DVSA CBT and DAS instructor after assessment at Cardington.

Last year, in all of the negativity of the pandemic, a new opportunity arose of becoming Chair of TVAM for which I thank you all for your votes at the AGM in January this year.

So that’s a little bit about me. My journey has been progressive, developed over many years, and it’s one that I have genuinely enjoyed. There’s nothing like riding and socialising with other motorcyclists and I look forward to, later this year, riding with and meeting as many of you as possible.

Have fun and stay safe everyone.

Barrie Smith