Hi John. So maybe we could start with a bit of an intro. Who are you and how did you become involved with the TRF?
Well if we go back a bit. I'm 66 now, I'm retired. I've been riding motorcycles non stop since 1964 and I got quite interested in green lanes in the late sixties really which was before the TRF was set up in 1970. To cut a long story short in 1973 I bought my first new bike which was a Bultaco Alpina and shortly after that I joined the Lancashire group of the TRF. I was elected as Chairman of Lancashire TRF group about 25 years ago.
John's first new bike, the Bultaco Alpina
Skip forwards a few years and I was at a TRF meeting where the treasurer was standing down and there was nobody who wanted to take his place so I stood up and said "OK I'll do it". I think this was probably late nineties and I was treasurer for a number of years and then when I stood down and Arnold Brewer became our treasurer.
That continued until we became a Ltd company and we had an AGM and someone said, we really need a Finance Director who is independent of Arnold because Arnold is a paid employee.
It must have been about five or six years ago I guess. So that's how I became TRF finance director after having been treasurer for many years before that.
It's a bit of a recurring theme - doing it because no one else will do it! What is the role of the finance director?
Now that we have Arnold, our acting treasurer, we work very closely with each other and also other directors to ensure that the TRF is kept liquid and we don't suddenly run out of money.
Is that a challenging task? Is it straight forwards? What does it actually entail on a day to day basis?
It can be challenging if you have got a number of legal claims or court cases on the go where even if you win it still costs you money, but when you lose it costs you shed loads. My role is the stewardship of the finances of our members who have made donations into the fighting fund to give us the ability to continue with our primary aim which is the conservation of green roads.
John's earlier days, before his attitude towards protective gear improved
And how much of your time does it take up?
It's difficult to say really. There's probably an hour or two of emails most days, and then we have our directors conference calls or meetings. I would say something in the order of ten to fifteen hours per week, but it can vary. It's not too much, it's not like a full time job.
You mentioned that you volunteered to do it largely because no one else would, but is it a chore? Do you get something out of being a director?
The directors don't take a fee. I get some of my expenses paid if I put a claim in but it's about getting satisfaction in knowing that it's a club, a fellowship, and you're putting your skills into actually helping the fellowship to continue.
And in your stewardship of five or six years is there anything that you are particularly proud of? Either something that you have done yourself or that the club has achieved?
I heard that you might be stepping down this year. Is that true?
Yes, I have indicated that I am going to be standing down at the next AGM. We have a TRF member that has shown an interest in taking over this role which is great.
We have been an ageing population. That's changing which has to be good for the club.
What kind of qualities, or person, would be right for the role of finance director in the future?
Certainly someone who has the ethos of the TRF at heart. Who knows where we are coming from. It's helpful if they are familiar with numbers and can read accounts, Arnold appreciates having a fellow accountant working with him because we talk the same language. But having said that, it doesn't need to be an accountant, but someone that has been involved in running the finances of organisations is helpful.
It's a good point really, you're not on your own, you have a small team of people working with you.
Yes, you're working with other people. Going back to when I was treasurer I was physically getting all the invoices, writing the cheques out and physically doing all of that side of things. That is now done by Arnold at Oxford Accountancy because that's what he does, he looks after accounts for a number of businesses, the TRF is just one of them but more importantly he is one of our members and understands what we are trying to achieve.
As you prepare to hand over the reigns to someone else, where would you like to see the TRF go in the future? What's the next steps for the club?