Suzanne Finch - written during her time as Club Chairman
Suzanne is also a past Great Western Section Chairman
If I could have foreseen all the fun and excitement we were going to have over the next 40 years, I might have shown a bit more enthusiasm when in 1973 Nicholas bought a dilapidated Bentley 3½ litre and joined the RREC. As it was, to say my reaction to the news was muted would be an understatement!
It was fortuitous that the restoration of the car was finally completed in 1986, coinciding with the formation of the Great Western Section. It was not long before both Nicholas and I were serving on the Section Committee, for many years as Secretary and Treasurer respectively. By attending Club Conferences and getting involved in the organisation of the Annual Rally as well as other national events, we made many friends and I developed an interest in how the RREC operated.
In April 2004 I was elected to the Management Committee. When in March 2005 Peter Baines, RREC General Secretary, died suddenly and prematurely, the MC had to consider who was going to run the Hunt House and edit The Bulletin until a successor for Peter could be found. I agreed to act as General Secretary with Malcolm Tucker editing the Bulletin whilst the recruitment process took its course.
It may well have been because of that hands-on experience that later in the year I was elected Deputy Chairman, taking over as Chairman on 1 April 2007. I already had a fairly good idea of what I wanted to achieve and was able to “hit the ground running.” Between 2007 and 2009, we launched a redesigned website, implemented the computerisation of the club accounting system, streamlined membership renewal facilities and introduced the new, credit card style, membership cards. We also celebrated the Club’s 50th Anniversary in style with a couple of high profile events attended by many long-serving members. Happy occasions indeed!
My colleagues on the Management Committee agreed with me that, in our anniversary year, the RREC should have a presence at the annual NEC Classic Car Show. The end result was that our stand, put together by a team led by Great Western’s own Malcolm Hobbs, was so good that at the end of the show, I was extremely proud to collect a prize for the best stand in our category. This event has now become an annual fixture for the club.
One of the most pleasurable duties of being Chairman is that of presenting prizes and badges to deserving members. Probably the most memorable of all was when, in April 2009, I had the honour of presenting the first ever 50 year badge to our dear late President, Eric Barrass.
Another duty, hardly onerous, is to visit as many Sections as possible, both in the UK and overseas. Our first overseas trip was to Switzerland for the Swiss Section AGM held in Vitznau on Lake Lucerne.
The beauty and elegance of our surroundings were certainly awe inspiring, but it was the hospitality and warmth of the welcome we received which really touched Nicholas and me, and this set the precedent for all of our trips over the next two years.
We were required to attend both of the last two Euro Rallies. The first was based near Berlin and the second in St Moritz, Switzerland.
Closer to home, we made our first ever visits to Ireland, to Edinburgh and to the Isle of Man. However, probably our greatest adventure entailed attending a French Section rally near Deauville, then driving through Holland, Belgium, Germany and Denmark to Varberg for the Swedish Section AGM. The few days spent driving between the two events turned out to be the nearest thing we had to a holiday for two years!
Although nothing prepared me for the intensity of the experience of being Chairman, I do not regret for a moment taking it on. It was without doubt a great honour. Amongst the negatives were the considerable responsibility, the 24 hour nature of the job and the total abandonment of any home life. However the help and support I received from my friends in the Great Western Section, the new friendships made and the greater awareness of all that membership of the RREC has to offer are all lasting positives which far outweigh the negatives.
In 2013, Nicholas and Suzanne celebrated 40 years of membership.