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The year really is flying by, with summer (allegedly) in full swing. I hope you all enjoyed the recent bank holidays (even if they weren’t as sunny as many hoped). The Spring / Summer Course is now well underway. A warm welcome to all our new Associates who’ve joined us for this course and welcome back to those returning from the last course.
The Observer team has seen some changes lately. Firstly, we have had long-serving Observers, Frank Rigby and Steve Taylor, hang up their clipboards. I’d like to, both personally and on behalf of the group, extend my thanks for the hard work and dedication they have shown. Their input and enthusiasm will be sorely missed.
We’ve also had a change of Lead National Observer, with Lee Westhead stepping down from the position and Mark Farnworth stepping up to fill the role. Many thanks to Lee for his input and dedication to the Group as Lead National Observer, his input has been invaluable; and congratulations to Mark, who I’m sure will relish the role.
We have also seen some changes to our committee, with Frank Rigby stepping down. Again, both personally and on behalf of the Group, I extend my thanks to Frank for his input on the committee; he will be missed. Speaking of committees, our Annual General Meeting is coming up on 13th June at the Ibis hotel, starting at 8pm prompt. It would be great to see as many of you there as possible.
End of Year Update
Off special note
The Group continues to meet its aims: to promote the improvement of the standard of driving and the advancement of road safety, for the benefit of the public.
The Group has continued to offer discounted Courses to Senior Road Users (60+) to encourage them to take up the Group’s IAM RoadSmart Advanced Driver Course and take the Advanced Driving Test. The discounts have been made possible due to generous donations received in recent years. Special thanks to LC&VS and the Rainford Trust. We recruited eight Associates through this route, up to the end of March.
A major achievement has been the Group’s successful application to the Merseyside Road Safety Partnership for funding to discount the Advanced Driver Course for young drivers. Funding has been secured for the St. Helens Group, and also the Sefton and Wirral Groups, to provide an £89 discount in the age range 17 to 35. Five young people who joined the Group in 2018/19 have benefitted from the discounts and five more are in the process of receiving discounts during this financial year This has been fantastic opportunity to reach young drivers and work closely with neighbouring groups to help achieve safer driving in young people and the St. Helens Group committee has been working hard over the last 12 months in devising ways of encouraging young people to take advantage of this fantastic opportunity.
Another highlight has been the Group’s participation in a trial of ‘Group sign-off’ – a way by which Associates can become full members of IAM RoadSmart without the need to pass a formal Advanced Driving Test, which has now become ‘Membership by Portfolio’. The learning that we have obtained was shared with other Groups by the Area Service Delivery Manager, Steve Ellis, and integrated into the wider launch of ‘Membership by Portfolio”.
We continue to strengthen the social side of the Group. Promotional events are being held regularly throughout the year; we are averaging over 1 event per month.
The Group’s 7 National and 5 Local Observers continue to give of their time freely to meet the individual requirements of the Associates. We recently lost the services Frank Rigby, Alan Phillips, Steve Taylor and Eric Lowe as Observers. I would like to thank them, both personally and on behalf of the Group, for all the hard work and dedication they have put in over the years and wish them well for the future. I would also like to extend my thanks and on behalf of the Group to Lee Westhead, who has recently stepped down from the Lead Observer role due to work commitments. His input has been invaluable to the Observer team.
With the advent of ‘Membership by Portfolio’ our main training this year has focused on adapting how we complete Associates’ training record booklets. After input from Steve Ellis, Area Delivery Manager, the aims were to show much clearer causal links between the scores and comments in booklets and to limit the amount of writing to a level that would not overwhelm Associates. Having developed a procedural document in consultation with Steve Ellis the aim now is for all the Observers to become proficient with its application. This is very much a work-in-progress and further Observer training sessions will be provided as issues arise.
I’d like to say a big thank you to our President, Lady Kirsty Pilkington for the work she does behind the scenes and to the Committee members and Observers who freely give their time to support the Group. Committee members are very proactive in the roles that they have which makes for easy management of the Group. The Observers make themselves available for Observed runs and all have taken steps to improve their standard of driving yet further. I’d also like to thank those who support the Group with financial donations and to thank IAM Examiners Jeff Mather and Oliver Fullerton for leading our Associate meetings. Finally, a ‘thank you’ to the ibis Hotel and the Millennium Centre and their respective staff for supporting us in using these venues as our meeting places.
Here’s to your continued safe and systematic driving.