The classic car movement of today owes a great deal to the hundreds of different clubs catering for just about every make and model imaginable. Whether your classic vehicle of choice is a family saloon from a mainstream manufacturer or a bespoke hand-built sports car, there’s likely to be a club careering for your needs as an owner and enthusiast. But with most clubs relying on volunteers to keep them running, the loss of just one or two committee members can make a big difference to their future success.
The MR2 Drivers’ Club knows all about such issues. This very successful organisation, which caters for all three generations of Toyota’s famous mid-engined sports car, recently sent an email to its members explaining that its chairman, Barrie Stokes, had been forced to retire due to ill health. Happily, a new chairman has been appointed, in the shape of Steve Tudor – better known as the MR2DC’s events manager. But an equally crucial role previously handled by Barrie remains unfilled at the time of writing – editor of the club’s magazine Log Book.
Without the position of editor filled, the future success of the club is potentially at risk, as the MR2DC’s board of directors explained in its email: “We need a Log Book editor and we need one now. We cannot sugar coat it. If we do not get a volunteer to take on this role we are in the serious position that Log Book may not be produced and we fear this may result in the imminent demise of the club. As you know, Log Book is the life blood of the club and is what makes us different to all other MR2 clubs.”
In these days of internet-based clubs and enthusiast groups, it’s refreshing to hear of an organisation that realises the importance of the traditional printed magazine. In this case, however, there’s also a requirement for somebody to handle the Club’s emailed newsletter: “We also require a volunteer to produce eLogBook, our monthly electronic newsletter. This could be the Log Book editor or a second volunteer, the choice is yours.” Not only that, the MR2DC needs help with its regalia and advertising, and is again looking for volunteers: “Not to be too melodramatic, we are at breaking point and we really do need your help.”
So is the MR2 Drivers’ Club unusual in reaching some kind of personnel crisis? It appears not. The Citroën Car Club also currently has a problem with the role of editor, with recent issues of the Club’s electronic magazine, The Citroenian, appearing less regularly than usual. A post by Brian Drummond on the Club’s website states: “The Board is aware that many members are concerned at the continued absence of The Citroenian. This is entirely understandable, as the situation has never arisen previously and the Board owes you an explanation.”
With the current editor being restricted by personal issues and the previous editor having little free time due to work commitments, the Club managed to appoint a relief editor; but with him now abroad on business, The Citroenian once again remains unpublished. Understandably, explains Brian Drummond, the CCC is keen to ensure the issue is resolved: “Although I am sure you will agree that this is a unique combination of circumstances, the Board is looking at ways of further improving our contingency plans to ensure that this cannot happen again.”
Some of the largest classic car clubs in the UK are able to employ staff, enabling the day-to-day running of the organisation to be handled effectively, leaving them less reliant on volunteers in order to function. But such clubs are in the minority, with the vast majority requiring as much voluntary help as possible in order to survive. As Steve Tudor, recently appointed chairman of the MR2 Drivers’ Club explains, clubs can’t just rely on a small number of dedicated folk to carry out every role: “We are the only MR2 club to my knowledge to have a printed magazine which in large is written by the members for the members but we need an editor to bring it all together. So to all you creative people out there within the Club, please try to spare a couple of hours a week to help. I know we all lead busy lives and time is precious, but the board, the regional co-ordinators and the other club officials cannot do it all. We need help.”
If you’re a member of either the MR2 Drivers’ Club or the Citroën Car Club and you feel you can volunteer your services in any way, the respective committees would no doubt be delighted to hear from you. Meanwhile, to all the other volunteer-based classic car clubs out there, how are YOU doing? As a club co-founder myself (of the Ford Anglia 105E Owners’ Club, way back in the early ’Eighties), I know how difficult it can be to find enthusiasts willing to give up their free time in order to take on vital roles. But without such people, there can be no clubs.
Here at Classic Car Buyer, we’d like to know what problems your club might be having in recruiting volunteers, either nationally or locally. And if we can do our bit to help by publicising your ‘situations vacant’, we’d be delighted to do so.
WHAT DO YOU THINK?
Do you help to run a club that struggles to find enough volunteers for vital roles? What can be done to help? Whatever your views or experiences, leave us a comment below.