TRF:Hi Mario. Looks like you’ve had a busy summer! A real step up for the TRF becoming involved in some of the biggest country shows in England. Where have you been exhibiting?
Mario:Greg Villalobos, the TRF’s Creative lead, has been very successful in reaching out to the public and trail riders on the web and via Facebook. We now need to go out & meet the wider, non-trail riding community in person. To do this, we have exhibited two main shows, organised nationally this summer; Gamefair (GF) & Countryfile Live (CL)
TRF:What was the thinking about taking part? Is this all part of the TRF’s conservation strategy?
Mario:Conservation is looked after by Dave Carling. It covers our work with safeguarding the way TRF members conduct themselves on the trail and changing the behaviours of all trail riders to ensure the sustainability of our pastime. Our presence at Countryfile Live and Gamefair is somewhat different in that we are not targeting trail riders or even bikers. The thinking of the CF & GF presence is to reach out to the wider public and landowners respectively, and inform them about the legality of trail riding and our work on social responsibility and benefit to the community when trail riding.
TRF:What goes into pulling something like this off? I’m guessing you put a bit of effort into making sure that the TRF were well presented?
Mario:The feedback received so far has been that the TRF has never looked better at a show. We are keen to get new creative ideas to improve further and build on the success of our presentation this year. I have a long list of improvements to action from the volunteer team and particularly from Tom Carnell the event manager. A project like this normally has a corporate budget of tens of thousands of pounds. We work to budgets of a few hundred. Despite financial constraints we like the TRF to punch above our weight. We deliver presentation improvements though the generous work of our TRF volunteers and creative input before we even get to the site. Tom Carnell of Glos TRF with event management and stand position, Rupert Trigg of Norfolk TRF and Director of www.dualcreative.co.uk for the new TRF banners, Gary Wrench a new TRF Member and Director of of www.codeav.com with the truss system that lifted the whole stand and Stuart Ward Owner of Peak Design for the TRF desk & TV unit all deserve special mentions.
Tom:This was the first event that I managed that was supported by volunteers rather than paid members of staff. The fact that we were all working together as volunteers gave us all a shared sense of purpose and camaraderie and devotion to ensuring that the stand was built quickly, the stand was staffed well with good levels of staffing on each day and the message was consistent that we put across to the public. From my point of view I couldn’t have done this side of the show without the volunteers as I had only just joined the TRF and had only taken part in one organised ride prior to The Game Fair – so it was a great opportunity to learn from the members and meet people with unique experiences such as Fern, David, Rhod, Robin and Mark. Without all the support of the members that helped the events would not have been as good and as unique as they were. We have had some great suggestions for next year – stand location, stand content and how we can improve what we did. What would be really nice would be to see some more volunteers come and help out – the more volunteers there are means that there is more time for people to look around the show as well. It also is a great opportunity to meet new members from different regions – I’ve ended up with invites of rides all over the UK which wouldn’t have been possible without being at these events.
TRF:What was the reaction on the ground?
TRF:It’s great to see the TRF stepping up to these opportunities, I think most members would appreciate the effort that goes in to making this happen. Will we be seeing you on the stand next year?
Mario:Next year we will look to do both GF & CF, if Tom as event manager is up for it. It would be useful to extend this into other sectors e.g. the equestrian sector and hopefully exhibit at a large equestrian show and a Ramblers / Walkers event. Before this, in November Robin Hicken will be managing our presence at Motorcycle Live at the NEC, and Alcuin Wilkie has volunteered to manage the London show in February. Given the tremendous interest from the wider public we need to create and promote a network of training partners who can take non and beginner riders and train them in the TRF’s ways, proving them with bikes for on trail bike owners and private access solutions for non-licence holders. What is most reassuring is that local groups have started to follow up with their own initiatives at a local level; county shows and bike meets. TRF Marketing has the infrastructure to support these at a local level – brochures, banners and sign up process.
TRF:Well done to all involved!