Mar 24, 2011

Chairmans Chunk - Spring 2011

Well here we are in our 20th anniversary year. I’d like to say the past twenty years have flown by but that would be ignoring all the strife, the uphill battles, the disappointments the mistakes and the tragedies. But then it would also be ignoring all the joy, the victories, the exceptional people, the marks of respect, the wonderful memories and maybe most importantly of all the thousands of people with disabilities who have been able to enjoy the freedom and independence of motorcycling due to the work of the NABD. So it may not have exactly flown by, but it has certainly never dragged.

It’s odd now to recall that there was a time when all of the authorities and much of the bike scene itself thought of us as a group of “raggy-arse” amateurs with an annual turnover less than £7,000.00 who wouldn’t last more than two or three years. Yet here we are twenty years on and readily accepted as the leading authority on motorcycling for disabled people with an annual turnover of more than £250,000.00 and a long and proud history of achievement as a matter of public record. Most things have evolved or even completely changed over the years (hopefully for the best) but we remain committed to our original belief that a registered charity should never be permitted to become a ‘gravy train’ for greedy and unscrupulous people and that the money raised should always be used for our stated aims. In this we have never wavered and the NABD is still 100% controlled by unpaid volunteers and 100% of every donation received goes directly on helping a disabled person to realise their dream of riding a motorcycle or a trike.

Over the past twenty years well over 5,000 people have benefited directly from the intervention of the NABD in many ways, including; financial grants to help with the cost of adaptions to bikes and trikes, regaining licences, carrying out licensing and/or adaption assessments, loaning adapted bikes for training and test purposes, advocacy on insurance problems and intervention with DVLA and/or DSA.

When you then add to this the people who have required advice but no physical or financial help and the people who have just benefited from the adaptions designed and produced for the NABD, together with those who have gained the information they need from our magazine or website I think it a fair estimation to say the total figure would be somewhere between 8,000 – 10,000 people in the British Isles who have been helped by the NABD.

In addition to this the NABD has been instrumental in helping other independent support groups for disabled bikers to set-up in Norway, France, Japan and the USA. It should also be remembered that due to the NABD being involved in the formulation of the new motorcycle test and having already negotiated some dispensations for disabled riders in the 3rd European Licensing Directive (due to be implemented in 2013); every disabled person who takes a motorcycle test in the UK has already been helped by the NABD. Of course nowadays we have two fulltime employees in the NABD office who take care of much of the day-today administration (it is many years since that workload outstripped the capacity of even the most dedicated volunteers) but even their wages are never taken from donations. Our own fundraising events such as the “You’ve Been Nabbed” rally and “Autumn Nabd’ness” rally raise enough to cover the cost of employing our two members of staff and our membership subscription fees cover the running costs which is why every year the amount of adaption grants awarded outstrips the amount of donations we receive.

There are times that the NABD has had to compromise on various issues but we have never, and will never, compromise our integrity and our belief in our association / I am exceptionally proud of the NABD and its achievements and every member should share in that pride because every one of us has contributed in some way to the NABD becoming more successful than any of us had ever dreamed.

Happy 20th Birthday NABD, may 2011 be our greatest year yet!

Of course there is much more yet to be done…..

Open House:
Once again I must apologise for the delay in getting this issue produced. Despite having the esteemed and talented Brian Leatherbarrow now dealing with layout, and graphics etc I still find myself struggling to find the time to write the articles and edit the submissions etc. This is partly due to the pressures of my other duties within the NABD and partly due to the ever-increasing success of my comedy shows and other interests. (Though I’m sure my fondness for “Cocktail Safaris” may play a part too, but everybody needs a hobby).

However I am taking steps toward solving these delays. I have recently asked Gary Seddon (Adaptions Coordinator) if he would be willing to edit (which usually means “write almost from scratch”) the adaption reports for future issues and he has graciously agreed. (It’s amazing how quickly people will agree to things when you get them drunk on exceptional wine in a lovely Ukrainian restaurant). So hopefully we will soon get back to the planned publishing dates.

Committee Changes:
After a long struggle with health issues Mark Miller has made the decision to retire from the administrative post of Sponsorship Coordinator. I know Mark has wrestled with this decision for some time and I know his belief in the NABD is unchanged but I think he has made the right decision for the best of reasons. Our heartfelt thanks go to Mark for this efforts over the years as do our best wishes.

Steve Necchi-Ghiri has also stepped down from his post managing the Learner/Loaner fleet. He had not held the post very long but it soon became obvious to him that the pressures of other aspects of his life would not allow him enough time to do the job in the way it needed to be done. Steve is not the first person to be taken by surprise by just how much of a physical commitment is required of national committee members and he is certainly no less well thought of for finding the post to be too much at odds with other aspects of his life. I offer him our thanks for having the guts to give it a go and the strength of spirit to give it up rather than make a balls of it.

Office Staff Changes:
It has been very remiss of me to have not updated you all on the changes we have had in the office over the past six months and I can only offer “pressure of work” as my excuse for not doing so.

Back in August 2010 our “Trainee Admin Assistant” Olivia Taylor handed in her notice due to finding the cost of travelling to and from work to be eating up too much of her income. She had secured another job much closer to home that would be financially better for her. Both Julie Williams (office Manager) and myself were sad to see her go because she had done sterling work in the office and had brightened the place up with her lovely (and cheeky) manner. We still miss having her around now, but I fully understood her reason for leaving and we all wish her success and happiness in her new job.

We took on a replacement admin assistant (Olivia even helped to get her settled before she left) but by December it was sadly obvious that she lacked the level of skill and experience required in such a busy office. When the office reopened I had the unpleasant duty of letting her go. It was a damned shame because she was a lovely person, but the welfare of the NABD has to come first.

We have now taken on a much more experienced administrator in the person of Jane Singleton and she is already getting to grips with things nicely. (I’ve told her not to take any nonsense from you lot, and Julie has told her not to take any nonsense from me).

Throughout all of this upheaval our office manager Julie Williams has been a heart of Oak and kept things flowing majestically along (like a Swan). Hopefully things in the office will now settle down to the usual manic state of fevered activity.

NABD Annual General Meeting:
The AGM is set for Saturday June 25th. This year the meeting will be held in a venue adjacent to the site of the National Youth-Bike rally and members are invited to make a weekend of it by supporting the Youth-Bike rally as well as attending the NABD AGM to set our direction for the next twelve months. There is more detail within this issue of the Open House.

You’ve Been Nabbed 20 (May 6th – 8th):
Our national rally is always a special event but this being the 20th I’m sure many of you will not be surprised to find that we are planning to make it ‘Extra Special’. The event is to be held at the usual site in Cheshire and it will once again be limited to 3,000 tickets, which are already selling fast (half of them are already sold as I write this). Don’t delay in ordering your tickets because this event will definitely sell out and there will be no tickets for sale at the gate.

There is a full-page advert for the event in this issue together with details of sponsorship opportunities available.

I have also included in this issue the full details of the Frog & Bucket Comedy Club Roadshow, which has become such an iconic feature of the event. The line-up this year is a spectacular array of talent topped by one of the hottest comedians on the UK comedy scene. In the next issue I will feature information on the 20+ live bands and artistes we will have at the event.

Sponsor a Barrel of Ale:
In addition to the larger aspects of sponsorship available at the “You’ve Been Nabbed 20” rally we are also offering people the chance to sponsor a barrel of real ale in our hugely popular Real Ale Marquee. For a mere £75.00 sponsors can have their name on a barrel of ale, they will also be included in the sponsors list and receive a laminated Certificate of Sponsorship from the NABD. If you are in a club, why not propose that they sponsor a barrel? If you are self-employed and you pay tax, why not sponsor a barrel yourself? Promotional expenses and charitable donations can all be written off against tax. If you work for a company, why not talk to your boss about it? It’s very good publicity and it has to feel better than handing your money over to the Tax Man!

There are full details in this issue, but if I’ve already convinced you; e-mail or telephone 0844 415 4849 and we will let you have a simple form to fill in. Help the NABD celebrate its Twentieth Anniversary by sponsoring a Barrel of Real Ale!

The Nabdonia Rally (July 1st – 3rd):
Following the success of last year’s Nabdonia Rally at the Swallow Falls Hotel we will be using the same venue again. Many people enjoyed the event having a somewhat different pace than our other rallies and I know a lot of people enjoyed having the option of YHA rooms and hotel rooms as well as camping. These options will all feature in the event again this year and with the lessons we learned last year we should be able to improve the event even further. This event has a strict 250-ticket limit and I would certainly advise you to book your accommodation early if you want to go in the hotel or the YHA.

It was a lovely laid-back event last year in a beautiful part of Britain if you were there, we would love to have you back. If you haven’t tried it yet, you really should! And just as an added incentive to those who are disappointed about Ruff Daddy not performing in the comedy show at You’ve Been Nabbed this year. He and Bad Mama will be performing in all their glory at the Nabdonia rally!

Easter Event in Blackpool - Cancelled:
A company called ‘Bond Coach Tours’ based in Blackpool advertised an event for Easter weekend 2011 called “The Bikers Big Beer Fest (Blackpool)” in the last issue of Open House. Unfortunately they have had to cancel the event due to some issues with the proposed venue.

They have informed me that it is their intention to re-schedule this event once they have another suitable venue organised. I will keep you informed if this happens.