I joined the marshals club in 1967, shortly after moving to Leeds. I can remember wandering into the Leeds’ motor show in the Queen's Hall and seeing a caravan, some straw bales and a tailor’s dummy holding a chequered flag. I asked what marshalling was all about and half an hour later I had signed on the dotted line and volunteered for my first event, the world speed records weekend at Elvington. The fact that I was almost killed by a 1908 Metallurgique did not put me off marshalling and so began 50 years of involvement with motorsport and the club.
I had joined the North-East region of the club and quickly became involved in the monthly club nights held between Leeds and Bradford. Within a couple of years I had taken on the role of public relations officer for the region and then got involved in preparing the regions newsletter. By this time I was marshalling at circuits all over the country from Silverstone to Croft from Oulton Park to Rufforth, covering Hill climbs, sprints, races, rallies as well as club events with BARC every month. I was one of the early members of the Silverstone emergency services team when our uniforms were based on second-hand firemen's jackets, trousers and pullovers. In fact, we set up the North East region emergency services team, copying the lessons we have learnt at Silverstone and providing cover at Croft, Rufforth, and other venues in the North.
It was now that I was asked if I would take on the role of regional training officer which I did with genuine enthusiasm. The grading scheme was just being introduced and training was taking on a far more important role within the club.
I continued in the role of Northeast region training officer until 1980, when the National training and grading officer role became vacant. I volunteered and was immediately accepted. In those days the role meant maintaining the grading records of all members of the club on a card database, where every member had a filing card containing their grades and history. Being involved in IT project management I decided that it was time to update the system and wrote the original grading scheme programme in Basic to run on my Dragon 64 personal computer. It now meant that we had audio cassette based databases and I could print out updates and reports for all the regions without having to resort to a typewriter and manual copying. When the IBM PC was introduced I transferred the program to that hardware and we upgraded to maintaining the records on floppy discs. We were continuously developing the grading scheme, trying to ensure it was fair and equitable for all members in all regions. We were also trying to persuade other clubs to adopt the same scheme and I'm glad to say that one by one they took on our BMRMC grades.
Eventually my work became more onerous as I began travelling the world and, very reluctantly, I had to resign from national Council. Marshalling had to take more of a back seat as I tried to balance my career, my family, and my hobby.
After a few years I realised I was missing the involvement with the club and when the position of national public relations officer became vacant I volunteered and started working on Council again. One of the main jobs I took on in this role was the production of our annual report. This took about three months of my life every year as I cajoled, persuaded, and threatened members of Council to produce their articles, then produce the report on my PC at home before sending it off to a local printer then taking all the copies (at one stage we produced over 4000 each year) to Council for the regions to distribute. We had no online facilities in those days.
We also had stands at the racing car show in London and the Autosports show in Birmingham, we gained the stands for free by providing marshals to help run the shows. I will always be grateful to John and Audrey Watt who took on the organisation of our stand at Autosports show during that period.
We were heavily involved in lobbying the MSA to improve the lot of our members and other marshals with fantastic support from the late Keith Douglas. This culminated in February 1998 when, with national chairman John Felix in support, I gave a presentation to the Motorsports Council entitled “Marshalling into the new millennium”. I still have the presentation and also the report I gave after. Unfortunately, it shows that after 20 years we are still having to give the same message to the MSA.
Highlights during this period included our celebration of the 40th anniversary of the club, when our then president Murray Walker and Stuart Turner (destined to be our president in 2000) were our guests of honour at a dinner held at Chesford Grange. As PRO fell to me to organise the event and I'm happy to say it was a great success.
I continued as national PRO until, once again, work intervened, and I had to once again resign from Council in 2002.
In 2004 I was acting as MSA steward at Snetterton. George Copeland was the clerk of the course and he spent most of the day talking to me about the current state of the club and the fact that they were looking for a new national chairman to take on the role in December. When I got home I had a long discussion with my wife Kathryn and we agreed that I would take on the role for three years.
The club had been losing members for some time, as were others, so it wasn't long before once again we were preparing to give a presentation to motorsports Council. This was done in February 2006 and again when I look at the messages we gave them they were exactly the same as in 1998 and are still messages that need to be heeded today. The three years that I had agreed quickly passed and stretched into a 12-year term during which we also celebrated our 50th anniversary with a dinner and again it fell to me to organise! At the end of 2015 I realised that it was time for new blood to take on the role and advised Council that I would be retiring from the role at the AGM in December 2016. This duly came to pass, and I was both surprised and very grateful when I was honoured with the invitation to become a vice president of the club. I am proud of the contribution I feel I have made to the club and I hope that in the years to come I will be able to continue to contribute to the development of the club and our members.
I currently hold the grades of examining post chief, examining specialist and examining speed Marshal. In 1991 I was asked if I wanted to become an MSA steward, a roll I still fulfil today.
Throughout all this period I have been involved in numerous committees and working parties at the MotorSports Association. The list is long but includes:
- Motor Sports Council
- Chairman Marshals Working Group
- Volunteer Officials Advisory Panel
- Drag Race Subcommittee
- Race Committee
- Volunteers In Motorsport