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My Fellow Journey

Posted on 05/09/20 |

I started my journey with the IAM in 2014. I had just changed my car from a 1.9 diesel Skoda to a 2.7 V6 diesel Audi A6. My dad was an observer with the Sheffield Advanced Bike Group (he’s still riding motorbikes at the young age of 83) and he had been saying for years I should join the IAM - the bigger engine and better performance of the Audi made it an ideal time to join. 

I was paired with Ken Green who a lot of you will know as an elder statesman of the Lincolnshire group and after a few observed drives I passed my test. I was very soon a Local Observer and then a National Observer, where I have met and helped some wonderful people to gain their Advanced certificate. In 2017 I got to thinking, how do I maintain my standards especially in a position where I am passing that knowledge on to Associates, so I put myself in for the Advanced Driver Re-test. In August 2017 I met up with Tim Stanley one of the Examiners who covers Lincolnshire and after a most enjoyable drive ended up with a F1RST. It was around this time that the Fellow Membership had started and I upgraded my membership to become an IAM Roadsmart Fellow. For those of you who are not aware of the Fellow Membership, Fellow members have committed to keeping their advanced skills current and refreshed by retesting every three years. In return IAM offer additional insurance benefits from IAM Surety and other priority offers from time to time. Which bring me to now, August 2020. On the August 12th in dropped an email from IAM Roadsmart: “It’s time to showcase your advanced skills and re-qualify as a Fellow member. Your details have been passed on to a local examiner who will call you to arrange a time and date etc”. 

I was allocated to Ross Glover, who some of you will know, as he was an Observer with our group. Ross contacted me and we arranged a date and time to meet in Witham St Hughs. Wednesday 26th August - today’s the day. I moved the car to a better position and did my POWDERY checks. Diesel? Need to fill up on my way, AdBlue? ok. Oil? Good. Water? Filled my washer bottle, coolant ok. Damage? None. Electrics? Everything working. Rubber? Tyre pressure checked and adjusted where necessary. You? Inhaler in the car, fresh face-mask in the car. A little nervous but ok! Additionally, the car is clean and the inside has been cleaned with wipes. Happy with the car (and me) I arrived at the meeting point 30 minutes early, having given myself extra time for the bypass roadworks between home and destination. 

Rather than sitting in the car, I sat out on a bench in the seating area of the car park. Ross was there at 16:45hrs and we spent about 15 minutes talking cars and motorbikes before doing an eyesight check and making our way to my car. When we were seated comfortably Ross gave me a brief on what we would be doing, that he would give me directions as necessary and to enjoy the experience. When we were ready to start, I did my cockpit drill and set off. The drive was mostly on roads that I had not driven on - a mix of A & B roads, towns and villages and a stretch of dual carriageway on the return leg. There was plenty going on and the skills gained by observing and coaching really paid off. There were pedestrians, cyclists, animals, parked vehicles, moving vehicles and all types of hazards to keep me busy but my Spoken Thought kept me on top of it all. I was able to use Limit Points to help me on unfamiliar roads and also position myself well for a nice overtake. We were out for an hour and I thoroughly enjoyed myself, it was an excellent route. When we got back Ross asked me to find a space and reverse park, I reversed in and shut down the engine. 

Then came the question they always ask; how do you think you did? I said that I had really enjoyed the drive, that I thought the route was terrific and I felt I had a good drive. Ross finished my paperwork and handed it to me to see if I had and questions about it, saying I had a terrific drive and I had got a F1RST! We said our goodbyes and it was time to head home. I now have 3 years until my next re-test and the pressure is on to maintain my personal standard.

My Fellow test report can be read here.

Simon Clayton
National Observer, IAM Lincolnshire

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