I bought my IAM RoadSmart Advanced Rider Course online in August 2018. I passed shortly afterwards. Since that first purchase, my life has changed in ways I could never have imagined – all significantly for the better!
Indeed, while my own life has been enriched by the experience of being a member of the IAM RoadSmart community, and by the great people I have met since starting my course, my local club - West Yorkshire Advanced Motorcyclists (WYAMS) - has changed beyond all recognition too.
WYAMS has been through some very challenging times of late, and we’ve developed accordingly. It has been a tough year for everyone. Even without the little matter of coronavirus!
But what has astounded me is how much our IAM colleagues from around the country have rallied round to give everyone at WYAMS the help and support we needed.
I had been newly elected to the committee, for example, when I saw one of the IAM
RoadSmart emails containing a very snazzy looking bunch of Advanced motorcyclists, all wearing fabulous IAM liveried riding jackets. They were the Dorchester and West Dorset Advanced Motorcyclists (DWDAM). I emailed them to find out where they’d got their vests from, half expecting a perfunctory reply. Instead, I got a very lovely and detailed email from Brian Purnell OBE, Chairman of DWDAM. He gave me full details about exactly where to buy the vests, how much they cost, who to speak to, and he even gave me a personal introduction to the supplier. I was bowled over.
And it didn’t stop there. I saw some of the fantastic websites and information from other affiliate groups, and I was keen to bring those ideas back to WYAMS. Again, I thought that the groups would be fiercely territorial and jealously guard their practices and information. Not a bit of it.
I spoke to Chris Brownlee, Chief Observer at Thames Valley Advanced Motorcyclists (TVAM). Chris is a fellow North Easterner like me and we hit it off straight away. He gave me loads of information about their amazing observer progression and development program. I was completely blown away about how enthusiastic Chris was. He invited me down to join the TVAM observers at their development weekend once COVID lifted. I even joined TVAM, so impressed was I with the ethos down there.
The surprises didn’t stop there. In fact, right on the doorstep were our neighbours in South Yorkshire - Sheffield Advanced Motorcyclists (SAMS). Their website was amazing, probably one of the best I’d seen in all my searches. It was dynamic, and interesting, and it really drew you in. So together with John Hardcastle, another WYAMS progressive, we went to SAMS’ Saturday morning meet up to spy on them and steal all their ideas! We got there, and bold as brass we said we were invaders from the north come to steal their ideas, and plagiarise everything. No point in pretending to be Greeks bearing gifts. We were welcomed with open arms, signed up to join SAMS, enrolled on the Local Observers’ program, and made a ton of new friends. Ian Corner from SAMS was the biggest surprise. He stepped up for WYAMS in our hour of need when we temporarily found ourselves without a club secretary. Nobody felt able to fill the position from the existing WYAMs committee and we thought we were in trouble. Ian volunteered to help us. He sought permission from SAMS committee, got the approval of Peter Serhatlic, our Area Service Delivery Manager, and came in to help out as caretaker manager for us. He literally saved our bacon.
And there’s more! We again reached out to Peter Serhatlic and he put us in touch with Ian Gibson and Charles Kernahan from Nottingham Advanced Motorcyclists. By now, I was Vice Chairman of WYAMS and Vernon Miles had become Chief Observer. We had a Zoom meeting with Ian and Charles who gave us a great steer on everything - from the best Radio Coms to purchase and use, to asking for Observers to shadow local examiners, to how the subs could be raised and deployed more effectively. Another fabulous link forged with a great club.
And yet again, it didn’t stop there. In fact, it seems to be like a snowball gathering pace. In the summer of 2020, I met Chris Chadwick, or ‘Chads’ as he is affectionately known, a local observer with Morecambe Bay Estuaries Advanced Motorcyclists (MBEAM). Chads and I have become very close friends. We’ve toured Scotland doing the NC500 together and we’ve done a weekend tour of the great passes of the Lake District. Our two clubs are planning a joint run as soon as the COVID situation eases.
So, after all these fantastic experiences, and no doubt more to come, it has become apparent to all of us at WYAMs that our two wheeled brothers and sisters in the various IAM RoadSmart affiliate groups across the country, are just like us - passionate about riding, sharing, and helping each other. It’s amazing what you can find where you go looking for it! And it’s an amazing family to be part of.
Words and photography by Christopher Dunn, Vice Chairman of West Yorkshire Advanced Motorcyclists.