As our club celebrates its twentieth anniversary of providing motorcycle training in the Northeast, members may be interested to look back on some of the main events and happenings as we continue to be active in motorcycling circles this coming season and beyond.
Our parent group Durham Advanced Motorcyclists (DAM) was formed in 1996 with some of our more senior members first becoming active in motorcycle training through this group.
As the Durham group expanded, we had Observers and new Associates traveling down from places such as Alnwick and Morpeth to The New Inn at Durham for training and to attend monthly meetings.
By the year 2000 it became clear that one group covering such a large geographical area could not be sustained so with the IAM’s permission a new Northumberland subgroup was formed in 2002 (NAM) meeting at The Highlander pub on the A696 between Ponteland and Belsay. DAM generously gave NAM a grant of £1,000 to help us start up and to become established. Our Northumbria group took in responsibility for Newcastle upon Tyne, and the Tyne and Wear districts. Our inaugural meeting in April 2003 was attended by members of DAM’s committee and a senior official from the IAM who travelled up from London to give credence to NAM becoming an IAM affiliated stand-alone training group. At about the same time NAM became a registered charity in its own right; this important status continues to the present day.
Jack Lormor became our first Chairman followed by Wayne Monk, Ray Charlton, Ron Patrick, Michael Sutherland, David Henderson, Mick Goodwin, Mel Leitch and to bring us right up to date, our current Chairman Rick Henderson.
At the first meeting we had 128 paid up members together with 20 Observers and 4 Senior Observers as National Observers were then known. Within the next 12 months our membership flourished with NAM overtaking other groups in the region.
As we outgrew the accommodation at The Highlander NAM moved to the Wheatsheaf hotel at Callerton Park then to The Britannia Hotel at Newcastle Airport, West Denton Fire Station, West Moor Social Club and currently at The British Legion building at West Jesmond where we are currently settling in after all the Covid restrictions are lessening.
From the outset NAM has always been an open and outward group encouraging new Associates to join the training programme and to take the IAM advanced test. At the same time the club has provided an active social scene with monthly club nights, group ride outs, residential weekends, open days, and other events to attract new members and to retain the core membership who go on to serve on the committee and support with the wider running of the club.
The only qualification to become an Associate member is to have a full motorcycle licence and to have a motorcycle capable of sustaining the national speed limit. There is no entrance interview or referral system; everyone is welcome. As we head towards the start of the 2022 season there are some 35 Associates signed up for training which keeps the Observer group busy! Over the past twenty years NAM has trained more than 600 motorcyclists to an advanced standard which is a significant contribution to road safety in our region.
After seven or eight years of being in operation there was a move amongst some members to break away from the IAM umbrella and in effect to become a private motorcycle club albeit with a training element. This proposal came to a secret ballot and was defeated by a 75% majority in favour of remaining affiliated to the IAM and registered with the Charity Commission.
Unfortunately, following the vote we lost some excellent club members, and a warm invitation was extended to these members to attend our 10th anniversary AGM to thank them and to acknowledge their part in setting up the club and making it successful. A buffet was laid on and our special guest speaker Fred Walmsley from Preston gave an entertaining talk about being Barry Sheen’s mechanic and preparing more than 25 classic TT winners.
In 2012 NAM facilitated a function room and catering for the inaugural meeting of Northumbria Blood Bikes together with a grant to help them become a registered charity and to get started. One of our Committee members Barry Bullas went on the become Chairman of the NBB and in 2016 was awarded the MBE in recognition of his initiative and hard work followed by NBB being awarded the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service in 2017. This was a proud moment for everyone involved with NBB and NAM who continue to be the main training provider of NBB volunteer riders.
Over time NAM has received national recognition and awards at the IAM’s annual conference held in Coventry. We have been rated third, second and then first best training group in the country; in the right order too! This is testament to our consistent standard of training together with the professional way that the club has been run since 2002.
Following Jack Lormor’s sad death in 2016 Ron Patrick became the club’s Honorary Life President until standing down in 2021.
Despite the interruption of the Covid pandemic the club remains in good heart, and we can all be optimistic as we head towards to start of the coming motorcycling season. At the time or writing there are still vacancies on the Committee and our Chairman will be please to hear from members who are willing and able to take on a post or are willing to help support the club’s many activities in other ways.