The Disorganised Organiser

 By David Love

Have you ever wanted to be a member of a rally organising committee?  No!  Sensible person.  The word committee is a big clue, it means that you have to be committed but I think it’s more likely you should be committed.  After 20 years or so of marshalling on the Tour of Cumbria/ Pirelli International Rally I was invited to join the committee.  This was not because I’d excelled at the job but due to the fact that my friend and SMC stalwart Alan Bateman felt he could no longer manage due to cancer.  I hoped that it would only be temporary and Alan would recover and return the following year.  Sadly it was not to be.  So I took over the roles of Equipment Officer and Start/Finish Co-coordinator without the foggiest idea what I was doing.  I’m still not sure that I yet know!

From the beginning of February I spend on average 2 hours a day on rally business and for the two weeks before the rally it’s nearer 5 hours a day minimum.  That’s a lot of time especially as I’m only one of 15 people on the committee who all have different responsibilities but I do the most work, wish I could keep a straight face when I say that.  Some have more than one responsibility and overlap with other committee members.  We have a Chairman & Sponsor Liaison, Route Planner, Entry Secretary & Treasurer, Safety Officer, Communications Officer, Webmaster, Chief Marshal & Deputy, Service Area Co-coordinator, Clerk of the Course, Rally Secretary, Media Officer, Programme Editor & Distributor, Rally Promotion, Accommodation Organiser and my deputy & me.

Our first meeting for the 2012 rally took place in September 2011 by which time a route had been planned and submitted to the Forestry Commission for approval.  Approval didn’t come until mid December, so in early January the route was driven and the first draft of the Road Book produced and then the route was driven again to check accuracy, sent out to several other committee members for a further check.  It was ready to go to the printers by the end of February as it needed checking again after they’ve prepared it for printing.  It’s quite confusing going from page 26 to page 50 and missing a stage!  There’s a lot more paperwork to produce and check including Regulations, Safety Manual, Operations Manual, Service Book, Signing-on Sheets, Time Control Checksheets, and so on.  In previous years a lot of paperwork was posted but this year it was all online and limited hard copies were issued by hand nearer or at the time of the rally.  This saved £500 in postage alone.

Meetings continue monthly until February when they become fortnightly until they’re weekly in April.  One of the most important meetings doesn’t involve the full committee only Chris Walker, Barry Armstrong and me, it’s when we get together to decide on the “goodies” for the Marshal’s Goodie Bag.  This always involves lots of coffee and cream cakes to stimulate the grey matter.  We always try to choose something that will be useful but it’s not always easy.  This year we chose a drawstring bag with the new 21st an­­niversary logo printed on it and I ordered 600 hoping that that would be more than enough for one to be given to every Marshal.  I hope it was because there’s none left now.

Mid way through March I started ordering a variety of equipment to ensure it is delivered at least two weeks before the rally.  Some of the hardest but most important items are the doorplates and numbers for the competing cars.  As we have no idea how many entries we’re going to get we have to make an educated estimate, wild guess to you and me.  You’ve probably never thought how many separate components go to make up a set of rally plates for a car, if you have you really need to get out more.  I won’t bore you with specifics except to tell you I supplied over 600 individual hi-vis numbers alone.  I also have to order personal & vehicle passes, stage equipment such as signs, tape, arrows, and tabards.  I only realize how much equipment I’ve ordered when the bills come in and our Treasurer stops talking to me.

Three weeks before the rally we had the drawstring bags, tee shirts and programmes for the Goodie Bags delivered.  These had all to be counted, programmes put in the bags, tee shirts sorted by size then they had to be split between stages and boxed up ready to go out and I didn’t even break sweat doing it.  I left it all up to my brother and nephew to do it, there are advantages to being the older brother.

The good news is that’s me finished but the bad news is I’ll be back next month with the nail biting story of my 2012 rally itself.