Hi James. You recently posted some interesting photos on the Wiltshire Facebook Group
of your monthly meeting. It looked as though you had a world-renowned adventurer talking about his motorcycle travels. Who was it and what did he talk about?
Well spotted! We booked Nathan Millward
to speak to our Group on the strength of a recommendation made by a fellow member.
Nathan's first big adventure started a few weeks prior to the expiration of his Australian work visa, which - with just four days planning - saw him purchase a bright red Honda CT110 'Postie' bike named Dorothy and ride it back to his family home in England.
His adventure took nine months and covered 23,000 miles through eighteen separate countries including East Timor, India, Nepal, China, Pakistan, Krygyzstan, Kazakhstan, Russia and Ukraine.
His second adventure saw him 'post' his bike to America during a period of soul-searching and uncertainty following the publication of his first book. He rode West at a steady 50mph from New York to Las Vegas (and later Alaska), passing through many of the backwater towns and communities which have become isolated from corporate America by interstate and freeway construction.
Nathan's bike proved to be an astute choice with only 'wear and tear' components needing to be replaced. This is no coincidence as the Australian Postal Service have worked with Honda for many years to produce an exceptionally simple, reliable and safe load-carrying variant of the already legendary C90.
Nathan regularly posts about his adventures on his websites, where visitors can also purchase his two books:
How did it go down with your members? It looked as though he was busy signing autographs at the end the evening?
Nathan's charismatic delivery really captivated the Group, who responded - at Nathan's invitation - with many pertinent questions during the course of his talk, which was complimented by dozens of photographs taken during his adventures.
Nathan brought copies of both of his books to the meeting and was happy to sign and dedicate them for members.
It’s encouraging to see regional TRF groups being innovative and forward thinking. How did the whole evening come about? Did someone know Nathan? Was it expensive? Was it worth the effort?
This year has seen a surge in Group membership and booking Nathan was both a response to this recent influx and an experiment to gauge member interest in such events.
We think that organising a speaker or workshop to coincide with our monthly meeting every other month is a valuable member benefit that serves to both engage existing members and attract new members.
Nathan was chosen on the strength of a recommendation made by our Group Representative, Jim Cairnduff. Group members sourced a projector and laptop for Nathan to use and the presentation was made in the (crowded) skittle alley of our 'local' - the Fox & Hounds in Devizes.
The reason I found out about this was your post on Facebook. How is social media helping Wiltshire TRF connect with new audiences? Not everyone in the TRF is so keen on the benefits of Facebook – do you have any advice?
We operate both a Facebook Group and Facebook Page. The Group is used for private discussion by verified Wiltshire Group members and operates much like a forum. Nothing posted in the Group can be seen by anyone who is not a member of the Group.
The Page is visible to anyone and is solely used for broadcasting positive news about the Wiltshire Group and issues that affect people interested in Wiltshire TRF, such as voluntary restraint, safety advice or temporary closures. Our page is followed by the media and we hope to provide them with several newsworthy good causes this year.
We accept that some members are reluctant to engage in social media so also send out occasional email summaries of Group activity and forthcoming events. Notwithstanding this, we have found Facebook to be the best method of engaging members - for now. You can find our page here:
What else is Wiltshire TRF up to? Do you have any more talks planned? Any events? I understand you have been helping Carla McKenzie prepare for her Byway Tour of Britain…
That's right, Carla is keen to improve her trail riding ability in advance of her tour and has joined us on several of our Group rides, making many new friends in the process.
It became quite apparent last year that regular rides out were the single biggest attraction to both established and new members alike, so we created a run leader rota in order to have at least two rides each week that are open to all members, with the ride route and duration dictated by both the ability and wishes of the respective riders.
In May we have our annual 'Wessex Wanderer
' fundraising event which will enable us to make donations to both the Wiltshire Air Ambulance
and Hope 4 Harmonie
- a charity established to improve the quality of life of a local child who tragically lost her limbs to meningitis.
How can new members get involved in Wiltshire TRF?
New members are always welcome at our monthly meetings at the Fox & Hounds in Devizes. Meetings start at 8pm sharp on the first Tuesday of every month, though many people will arrive early in order to eat, drink and chat bikes with each other.
April's meeting will be complimented by a presentation from trans-global motorcyclist Gabriel Bolton who has agreed to speak for a nominal fee. Intimate, captive TRF audiences are a valuable starting point for L-plate public speakers wishing to bolster their confidence and refine their performance.
See you at the Fox