After a blistering June, July has not been much to write home about. Nonetheless, I hope that you’ve managed to find some time in the saddle either here in the UK or touring abroad?

Fifty-six of us managed to dodge the showers at the beginning of July for the Observer Weekend in Wales. I was delighted that we had 12 Trainee Observers join us, with six members coming for their first time. It only represents around 35% of the Observer Corps and so I want to know how we can make it even more inclusive. We focused on giving feedback, using the 1-10 scalar technique, and on tips to better fill out Run Report Forms, so don’t be surprised if your Observer tries some of these out on your next ride!

Much of the Committee’s time last month was spent preparing for the huge changes at St Crispin’s School. An army of volunteers arrived at 7.30am to plan out how best to make use of our allocation of the front car park and to ensure marshals were on hand to guide everyone safely in and out. We were blessed with some fine weather, which certainly helped. We are indebted to all of you that helped make the last St Crispin’s work. Yes, we learned a few things along the way, and will make a few changes for this month. Hopefully by September, the School will have erected a temporary canteen that we will be able to use. Again, we thank you for your continued patience.

I often get questions about, especially why some messages get posted and others don’t. So, I thought I would explain how and why we use it. We’ve been using since April 2019. Before that, we relied upon a number of Yahoo groups that were created by various members, over which, we had no control. Messages were sent by email – some of you still love email and some of you (like me) loathe it! allows you to use email to post and pick up messages if you wish and there is a mobile app for those that prefer that. You choose how you want to be notified of new messages. For example, there is a Digest containing all the message text of up to 12 messages and the Daily Summary, which contains links to messages which can then be read online. Members opting to receive individual messages rather than a Digest or Summary appears to be the most popular.

The Committee have been tracking the usage of as an indicator of member engagement since October 2019. The data shows a really high level of participation. In the last year an average of 97% of the membership were registered users (and in some months, that reached 99%). In the same year, on average, 466 posts by 167 members were made each month. The highest number of posts in a month was in September 2020, at 988 (by 255 members), which perhaps does not surprise, given it was at the height of Covid! The lowest number of posts in a month, at 305, was in March this year, which is a little more surprising but still a good level of engagement.

So why don’t we use WhatsApp or any other social media tool for that matter? Well, there is a simple reason for that – compliance. As a Club, Company and Charity, any tool we use for Club business must be compliant with Data Protection, the Equalities Act, the Defamation Act and a whole lot more legislation. It is worth noting that has no advertising and no tracking (so it’s free from the prying eyes of your favourite search engine). The club therefore needs to be able to control who has access, when access is revoked (i.e. if a member leaves TVAM) and to keep the space free from defamatory or other unwanted content. We also need to make sure as much of the content posted is relevant to as many of you as possible. With such a big Club, this isn’t always an easy task and there is a fine balance to be struck between what some might call ‘moderation’ and others ‘censorship’. To help in that distinction, we published some guidelines. The full set can be found here:

A few topics that sometimes cause confusion are:

  • You may only post for sale items that are yours. You can’t post on behalf of non-members and only motorcycling related items are allowed.
  • You can’t request support for other charities, however noble the cause. Potential exceptions are information on MAG activities, marshal support for the Reading Toy Run and comment on Air Ambulance activities, but not fund raising.
  • Team runs can be posted on the Local Team calendar. For all-member club rides, messages are not sent to remind everyone about rides that are on the allmembers calendar but are included in the calendar summary every Friday. No reminders are sent for individual rides. Upcoming events are advertised on the Wiki banner, where possible. is the Club communications tool, with separate subgroups for each local team, for Observers (including trainee Observers), run leaders, and team leaders. It’s also a great place to find out what’s going on – check out the calendar – and some events are designed so that you can sign-up (RSVP) online too. There is information in the Wiki section as well as a host of documentation in the Files section, including electronic versions of all the advanced riding documents, SatNav routes (also available as PDFs), minutes of the various meetings and electronic versions of Slipstream. So please do make the most of it.

I am indebted to Andy Wedge and Chris Brownlee for running, which is no easy feat and takes considerable time and effort.

Finally, just another plug for the excellent TVAM Online Quizzes. Brush up on your knowledge – how much of the Highway Code do you still remember? How many of you have updated your copy with the new one? What about your knowledge of the Advanced Rider Course (ARC), Motorcycle Roadcraft and Motorcycle Control? Two versions of the quizzes are available via the Wiki ( Level 1 is designed to test your knowledge of the Highway Code and Road Signs and Level 2 adds in Roadcraft and the Advanced Rider Course. They are ideal if you are an Associate preparing for your advanced test. There is also a more detailed Observer quiz available via the Observer Wiki for those validating or revalidating as a National Observer or an Observer about to undertake your National Observer validation or revalidation.

Here’s hoping that sun comes out soon and you can make the most of it!

Adrian Ellison
Chief Observer