The M.G. Car Club 'Y' Register
Spring Run 2011 - May 22-23 2011
By Jerry Birkbeck
This was a new venture for us and although the planning was much the same as before the venue presented new challenges.
Knowing the area
Jo and I knew the Cotswolds and Herefordshire reasonably well so past events
have been relatively straightforward to organise and check out. Going north into
the Peak District was a little different.
First we needed to find a start and finishing point. Generally we have used National Trust properties but the options open to us were rather limited and would have meant a greater distance to travel. We have found that a run of between 35-45 miles is quite sufficient.
We homed in on Hartington, just south of Buxton as this had at least two potential locations for an evening meal and the starting point of the run on the Sunday morning.
Choosing the venue for the Spring Weekend Dinner on the Saturday is always a juggling match. We need to find somewhere that can cater for between 30-50 at a reasonable price per head and could be a potential starting point. Experience has taught us that an initial trawl of the internet and Trip Adviser can give us some indication of the experience of others using a restaurant and commenting upon the facilities.
In the event we came across two Hotels in Hartington and I spoke to the owners of the Charles Cotton Hotel and outlined our needs and whether they were able to accommodate us for the weekend of 14th/15th May. This was agreed and I made a provisional booking and mentioned that we would be up to look over the facilities. They added that they had 17 rooms and at that time (December) there were 15 available.
Our visit was well received and we felt a little like the Hotel Inspector! However, we had a lunchtime meal and look round the rooms and agreed that they were fine. I also asked Bill and Helen Bennett and Mike and Sue Silk to try it out for a meal and their response was very favourable.
Whilst this was going on we had also considered some potential finishing points. Peter Vielvoye had mentioned that the Tramway Museum at Crich might be a possibility and a visit to their website and a couple of e-mails confirmed that they could deal with up to 30 cars on the Sunday and that we would be part of the street scenes.
Having poured over OS Maps we sorted out a route and then decided when would be best to go up to check it out. We infact made two visits before resolving a route that was both challenging and practical for 60+ year old cars and occupants.
I know that you may not believe this but we do plan the route carefully, as we have to advise the RAC of our choice so that they can check it out to see if any other car clubs have made the same choice on the same date! Jo selects the route, using the well developed 'Tulip' system, I drive and call out the mileage at each junction. She then writes these down in her notes (and yes she did include the ford on one section — it was just that I missed it when I typed up the directions!). These then provide the basis for the route as set out in the Rally Books.
Sorting it all out
This is reasonably straightforward as the event is advertised in Safety Fast, the Bulletin, Enjoying MG, MG Enthusiast and Classic Car Weekly. It is also promoted on the both the Y Register site and the International Y site and Jack Murray sends out a copy of the application form with his Get you home service at the beginning of each year.
We have tried to cover most available outlets though I guess I should also send out invitations to former entrants each year. However, I don't think that this would increase numbers which, with the exception of this year, have tended to be around 25-30 entrants. The great majority of these are regulars and they are the backbone of our support.
Since we have incorporated a Dinner on the Saturday night, and that wasn't started until the Diamond Jubilee Event in 2007, ensuring a reasonable number has always been a priority and we do take quality and price into account. The informal feedback was very supportive for this year's choice.
We always include a Route Book and a Rally Board. For the last 13 events Ian Hopkins has kindly provided the boards at just material and printing costs. However, he no longer has access to those facilities. So I sourced local and national suppliers of rally boards all of which were not cheap. Peter Sharp's inaugural Autumn Run for which we ordered 30 boards cost around £4.00 a head plus VAT. This year I decided to prepare the boards myself which was straightforward as I have a laminator. The printing I have done separately and 25 copies on reasonably thick card will probably work out to around £1.00 each including VAT (though I can't confirm this as I have yet to receive the bill). Any thoughts on Rally Board design would be welcomed.
I have mentioned the need to have a route approved by the RAC. This involves sending a 'trace' from an OS Map of the route to the area liaison officers. Subject to their approval an application and cheque for £19.00 is sent off. The aim of this is to ensure that there is no clash with other car clubs, local events or difficult residents on any part of the route through which the run passes.
In preparing the entrants it has been pointed out to me that partner's names should be included. I entirely agree with this and I do know most of them but there are occasions when having to chase up a few, who may not be easily contacted, can be time consuming. A poor excuse and I will ensure that this is addressed next year!
We always ask for an A4 SAE with stamps to the value of the current rate for the weight. I think that £1.25 was a little over the top — it should have been around £1.00 but it hopefully means that you receive the bundle a little earlier! There are still some of you who seem to think that everything can be stuffed into a bog standard Christmas card sized envelope (A5) though thankfully these are now down to the odd one or two individuals!
The info is sent out normally within 10 days of the event, though there are still some that get lost. Peter Sharp mentioned on the Saturday that he had not received his. If there is a problem then do contact me prior to the day I always have some spares. A couple of others forget theirs (!) and because three late punters did not make it I had enough.
The concept of a weekend, rather than just a day out, has gone down very well and we are very appreciative of the kind comments that many of you have made.
Your thoughts on the route are very useful and contrary to what many of you may think I don't build in surprises with the intention of getting you lost. A few inadvertent omissions, like the ford, just makes it all the more challenging!
We have a few ideas — Dorset, Pembrokeshire, the Forest of Dean as suggested by Peter Vielvoye — are potential areas. Your thoughts are welcomed.
One idea that has been suggested is that in 2013 the MG European Event of the Year at Aviemore could be preceded with a Spring Run held in Northumberland on the way up to the main event. Generally EEY's cover a period of 4 days from Thursday to Sunday. Perhaps if we choose an hotel en route and used this for our Dinner and Run on say the previous Sunday with a run that day followed by an evening meal. Then allowing folks to travel up north to Aviemore, which is around 150 miles from Alnwick. Thoughts and ideas very welcome.