Monday, 26 May 2014

Mid Kent Group's AGM

Last week members of the Mid Kent Group of Advanced Motorists attended their AGM. Chairman Linda Davies opened the meeting with her report on the progress the group has made over the past 12 months. Linda started by informing the group that our pass rate stands at 88%, 2% above the national average. Linda thanked all the observers for their time and efforts given to the group and to the associates.

Linda Davies (centre) thanked Pam Medlock (left) and
Sally Anne Clark (right) who will be leaving the group soon. 
Linda's report included successes and thanks with the Outside Events team - attending many events around the Mid Kent area, including Bearsted Classic Car event, Kent Police Open Day and the Kent County Show amongst many Phil Mason, Alan Rowe and the team has attend. Success and thanks to Mike Cranfield who organises the Skid Pan courses. Thanks goes to Max Power who organises the social events for the group, including a Trip to the Dogs, Annual Dinner and the Christmas Quiz. Their has been very good attendances to many of the events. The group's magazine gets better, explains Linda who gave thanks to Magazine Editor Margaret Robertson.  The groups social media outlets slowly gains momentum, with increased followers and visitors to Twitter, Facebook and this very blog. Thanks went out to Graham Aylard for his efforts and also for the design of the new website. Linda explained that in just a few weeks, over 3000 visitors visited the new site.

Linda presented Daren Bubb with a gift for his wife Debbie as thanks during the recent merge with the East Kent group. Daren had dedicated many hours at the expense of family life to complete the marge between the two groups.

Linda explained that the groups have now completed the merge and we will continued to be called the Mid Kent Group, certainly for the time being.

Linda finished her report by giving thanks and a special gift to Val and Max Power for all their assistants to the Chairman throughout the year. plus two people leave us soon, Pam Medlock and Sally Anne Clark. Special thanks to these lovely ladies for their time and efforts for many years with the group.

Linda completed the report and the formalities of votes, Mick Cranfield stands down from the committee and Linda welcomed Alan Billington to the committee. No other changes made. Linda handed the stage to Treasurer Daren Bubb, who presented to the group the years accounts and balance book. Daren’s energy and presentation is informative and entertaining explaining the group has a very healthy balance.


The chairman Linda Davies presented a number of awards this evening. The Stan Hawkins award went to Graham Aylard for his time and efforts with the social media sites and for the efforts made for the new designed website. Well done Graham.

The Chairmans award was a difficult decision to make between two people this year, so Linda decided to award two this year. The first went to Mick Cranfield for his efforts with organising the Skid Pan sessions. The second goes to Daren Bubb for keeping the books balanced and his time during the group merger.

David Ibbott presenting a special thanks to
Chairman Linda Davies for all her work for the
Mid Kent Group.
Linda went on to explain one award that was missed last year. 30 years service to the Mid Kent Group goes to John Bowman. John was presented with a special certificate and thanks from Linda for all the hard work John has done for the group.

Before the evening moved on to our guest speaker, David Ibbott hijacked the stage to give thanks and recognition to the Chairman on behalf of the group for her efforts towards the group. Linda was certainly surprised to receive a gift of thanks from the group.

The evening moved on to our special guest Detective Superintendent Nicky Kiell, Head of Forensics for Kent and Essex Serious Crime and Mak Walsh, Principle Crime Scene Co-Ordinator, who both explained some if the tasks faced with Forensic work within the police. The comparison between US TV series 'CSI Miami' and 'CSI Kent' was certainly entertaining.

The official AGM minutes will be released in due course. Keep an eye on our website news page for the release.
Graham Aylard receiving the Stan Hawkins Award

Mick Cranfield receiving one of the Chairmans Award

Daren Bubb receiving the second Chairmans award

John Bowman receiving his 30 years of service to the Mid Kent Group certificate 

Friday, 23 May 2014

Breaking snooze

Driving on motorways can be sleep-inducingly dull, especially when you add the hypnotic effect of miles of identical roads, pouring rain and windscreen wipers. 

It's tempting to set the cruise control to 70 and let the car get on with the rest – but that could have the same effect as hitting the snooze button. If you focus on keeping your speed right, you'll keep your concentration and be less likely to doze off.

At 70mph you travel 30 meters every second. You might not think you'll fall asleep at the wheel, but you might not even realise you have. Plan your journey so you include a break every two hours, and take the breaks whether or not you think they are necessary.

If you start feeling tired take a break; don't worry about where you're going to, it's better late than never. A cup of coffee is great for giving you a boost. It will be about 20 minutes before it has an effect, so have your drink and settle down for a nap. If you sleep for any longer than 20 minutes, your sleep will be deeper and harder to wake from.

If you've got a long journey, get a good night's sleep the night before. If you decide to leave early to beat the rush, remember that the early hours are when you are at most risk of drifting off. You'll have another dip in energy after lunch too, especially if you have a heavy meal.

Carry a bottle of water to keep you hydrated on the journey, as well as snacks –especially if you're travelling with kids. But make sure you've pulled over in a safe place to have your food or drink.

If you've got the time – perhaps you're heading off for your family holiday – consider taking a different route to keep you alert. It might take longer but you'll see more of the countryside, and may even miss major motorway delays. Set your satnav to avoid motorways, but check that you know your route on a map too, in case the technology fails.

If there's more than one driver in the car, share the driving. This is especially important over longer distances, and does mean you can make better progress as one of you can rest or map read, while the driver concentrates on the road.

There's no getting away from it, motorway service areas are expensive. Planning your stops at them doesn't mean you have to shop there. Take your meals with you or try a little off-motorway driving. Hugh Cantlie's excellent book Near the Motorways lists great affordable alternatives to service stations all within five minutes of the motorway. You'll also break the motorway monotony

Monday, 19 May 2014

The Rural Road to Ruin

Country roads may be a more enjoyable drive than long straight ones, but they account for two-thirds of serious crashes. Bank and summer holidays see more drivers on rural roads that they are not familiar with. High speed limits, tight bends and unexpected hazards all add to the risk.

Expect something – a cyclist, horse, a tractor – around every blind bend, and watch out for clues to their presence, such as horse dung on the road. Be particularly careful when passing horses. Just like people, horses are individuals and will react differently. Always give them space when passing, and don't risk startling them by rushing up or making any sudden noises. Try to be understanding if there are two horses riding side by side. Horse riders often do this to protect less experienced and nervous riders and horses. 

Rural journeys often take longer than expected because of the slower road users, so allow extra time in your journey for obstacles, so you don't feel the need to rush.

In the spring, new vegetation growth may block your view around bends. Your speed should reflect the distance you can see to be clear – if you can only see three metres ahead, you should be able to stop within that distance. Vegetation can also obscure road signs. If you are looking for a particular sign, slow down until you see it and know where you're going.  If you spot a sign too late, it's best to carry on rather than try a sudden manoeuvre. 

On bright days, overgrowing trees can create dark shadowed areas which are difficult to see into. Slow down until you can see the road is clear.

Where there are farm vehicles moving around, there is likely to be mud spread on the road. This can get very slippery when wet, so be careful when passing entrances to fields. Loose gravel, leaves and potholes are also common so always keep an eye on the road surface.

Watch out for groups of bikers who can arrive unexpectedly and at speed. Listen out for clues of their approach and remember that the last rider in the group may be tempted to overtake dangerously to keep up with his friends.

On fast country roads, side turnings and gateways can present a real hazard. As you approach them question whether you could react in time if somebody was to appear from the entrance. If not, take your foot off the accelerator, and be prepared to brake. Try to spot side turnings early and take extra care when approaching buildings which may have entrances obscured from view.

Despite rural roads being the most dangerous, driving on them is not part of the driving test. If you're a learner, or are giving instruction to one, make sure you include rural roads in your practice. 

Finally remember the national speed limit is a maximum, not a target speed, and may often be too fast for the conditions.

Thursday, 15 May 2014

2013 AGM minutes for ratification on May 20th

Mid Kent Group of Advanced Motorists
MINUTES of AGM - 21st May 2013
The AGM was held at the Grove Green Community Centre Maidstone and was Chaired by Linda Davies 
The meeting formally opened at 8.05pm
There were 46 people present
1 Welcome to Guests  
Linda welcomed Mark Trimmer (Regional Operations Manager) and also Superintendent Andrea Bishop
Fire exits noted
Apologies for Absence
Daren Bubb, Helen Cranfield, Mick Cranfield, Colin Draper, Dee Goodwin, David Hill, Elsa Newman-Draper,
Roger Philips, Margaret Robertson, Richard Thomas and Roger Vickery.
Proxy Votes
2 Minutes of previous AGM 
Treasurer's report line 4 the word profit was changed to surplus 
Minutes approved
3 Chairman's Report by Linda Davies
There are no scheduled fire drills this evening so in the unlikely event of a fire please leave the
building calmly and quickly by the exits previously indicated and assemble in the rear car park.
During the last year we have been working closely with Chiswick in the planning of the new Modular
Training.  Several meetings have taken place down in Horsham which has resulted in this training
now being available.  So for example if anyone has a problem with say driving on the Motorways they
can now just do that module for £45.00 without having to do the whole Skill for Life.  As yet there have
not been many takers but it is early days
Val, Max and I have attended 2 South East Forum meetings this year as well as the Annual Conference
last October held at Warwick University.  Once again we were kindly invited by our friends at East Kent
to attend their AGM which Val & Max accepted on behalf of the Group.  
At last Saturday's Forum meeting we learned that of the 92,000 IAM members only 20,000 belong to
any Group.  So I am pleased to advise you that Mid Kent continues to maintain a healthy membership.
At the moment we have 509 Members comprising 468 Full Members and 41 Associates. 
Our grateful thanks to Richard Thomas who does an outstanding job as Membership Secretary.
If you are a tax payer and have not yet signed up for Gift Aid please do so - there are forms at the 
back of the Hall
Our promise to update the antiquated Lecture Team equipment and DVD's continues.  A new Laptop
has now been purchased and for your information three weeks ago a new Projector was bought too. 
This item does not form part of this years accounts. 
The work on DVD 1 was unfortunately delayed due to the appalling weather and a new driver needed
to be recruited.  I am pleased to confirm that this is now underway again and should be in use later 
this year.
For those who are not aware members of the Lecture Team also give up their free time to go out to
other organisations as speakers helping to attract new associates. 
I would like also to formally welcome the latest Lecture Team member Pam Medlock and on behalf of 
the Group thank the entire Team for the Professional lectures that we now enjoy on Sunday mornings. 
In an effort to increase Associate numbers the Committee agreed to fund as an experiment a price
reduction on the cost of a Skill for Life package.  22 new Associates took advantage of this offer which
we may consider offering again later this year
Test results since the last AGM including the Alternative Course:-
63 Associates have started, 3 dropped out, 28 are still in training, and 4 are awaiting their test.  Of the 
28 that have taken the test 24 have passed and 4 have failed.  This gives us a pass rate of 86% which
I'm pleased to say is a 4% improvement on last year and is now higher than the National average.  
We also now have 4 F1rst's in the group - congratulations to those members.  I am advised that this
is the IAM equivalent of a ROSPA Gold
On April 6th we again hosted an Observer Training Day which was attended by The Regional Training 
Team.  A special thanks as always to Christine for the all day refreshments she served and really 
excellent lunch which was enjoyed by all.
I should like to thank the SO team, Training Officers and all Observer's for their outstanding efforts this
past year.  Apart from the Sunday runs they have given up their free time to conduct OOH's runs which
total in excess of 200 extra hours.  On behalf of all the Associates thank you
I would also like to thank Terry Nunn our Associate Co-ordinator for all the hard work he puts in 7 days
a week organising the Associates.  He is effectively the voice of the Group usually being the first point
of contact. Thank you Terry
Thanks also to Neil Regan at the signing in desk and Tony Willson for conducting the eye sight tests. 
Both these gentlemen help to ensure the safety of our Observers on the road. 
Our outside Events Team continue to promote Mid Kent at every opportunity and so far have attended:-
Kaslers Highways to Hell Seminar 
Kent County Show despite the worst muddiest conditions ever
Maidstone Hospital Fete
Maidstone Mela Day 
Sittingbourne Dog Track
Bearsted Green Classic Car Event 
Gravesend Fire & Rescue and Heritage Cars at the Detling Showground         
Recruitment stands were also manned at both the Winter Driving and Defensive Driving evenings.
The letterboxes and Businesses of Maidstone continue to be targeted with copies of Advanced Driving
and Mid Kent leaflets.  Doctors and Dentists surgeries, Hospitals and Physiotherapists also do not 
escape the attentions of our intrepid team.
Grateful thanks go to Phil Mason, Alan Rowe and all the team who have struggled against the elements 
at many of those events - an excellent job well done - thank you all. 
Vauxhall's have been running a series of evening events for Ladies only so we now also have a team
which attends these.  Thank you Val and Margaret.
Mick Cranfield's boundless enthusiasm continues to keep a steady stream of applicants wanting to  
undertake skid pan training - so far 7 sessions have taken place with another 3 already booked.   
Thank you Mick
Our website and social networking sites are constantly updated Facebook has not been as successful
as we first hoped, only around 15 people are 'liking' our page.  We advertised the Winter Driving 
evening on there in an effort to attract young drivers and whilst it's unknown how successful this was
 it's still worth shouting about who we are, what we do and where people can meet us.  
The groups Tweets are a little more successful although there is no method to measure how many 
people see them.
What we can say is the Group has posted nearly 300 Tweets which has increased
our following to 160.  If it wasn't for Twitter Chiswick wouldn't have heard about our Blog. 
Regular posts have helped to increase hits on our Blog to around 30 a day.
An increase in interest on our Blog has undoubtedly been due to a number of postings by Neil Lakeland  
who wrote about his experience whilst training to become a Group Observer.  Neil also used Tweets to  
Chiswick about his experience, resulting in them including a link to our Blog in their monthly email 
newsletter. This generated hundreds of hits in just one day.  In total Neil's first article has to date gained
more than 800 hits.  Well done Neil
February saw the biggest number of people taking a look at our Blog entries - just over 1800.  In total, 
since the last AGM we've had 11075 hits.  A cloud is now also in operation. 
My thanks go to our Webmaster David Hill and Graham Aylard for their amazing efforts in keeping the  
Mid Kent Group in the public eye.
For your enjoyment Social Secretary Max Power has arranged some excellent speakers:- 
We have had 3 hilarious evenings with IAM examiner Lester Parsons 
An Driving Ergonomics evening with a presentation from Dr Diane Gyi a senior lecturer at 
Loughborough University.
In August our own David Cooper held us all spellbound with tales of blood and gore from The Tower of 
In October we opened our doors to the public and held a Winter Driving Evening which proved 
extremely popular. 
We were honoured to welcome the Chief Constable of Kent Ian Learmonth in November along with 
tonight's speaker Supt Andrea Bishop.
Our now famous Christmas quiz night was a great success and was attended by over 90 people.  
Thanks go to Max our Quizmaster and his assistant Val for organising all the fun -  an excellent way to
end 2012  Thank you Christine for the superb refreshments. 
In January we were pleased that David Cooper was able to return and tell us all about the Crown 
Sgt Miles Bishop from the Police Crash Investigation Unit gave us an insight into his career and what 
happens at the scene of a crash.
Last month we again held a public open evening this time the topic was Defensive Driving.  Another  
is planned for later in the year.
Max has also organised some excellent Outside Events.
In September the Group went to the Dogs - Greyhound Racing in Sittingbourne.  We had our own room
with a balcony overlooking the track with a 2 course meal included.  As Group Chairman I was asked 
to present a Trophy to one of the winning owners.  Some members even managed to beat the Tote. 
We were delighted to support a Charles Dickens Charity Event held at The Central Theatre in Chatham
in aid of Great Ormond St Children's Hospital which raised in excess of £6000.  Some members 
joined in the fun by dressing in Dickensian costume.   
Our Annual Dinner by popular demand again took place at The Hilltop.  If you were not able to attend 
you missed a great evening.  Perhaps you'd like to join us this year?  Max will be pleased to give you  
On the 21st of March a coach party of us went to the Tower of London to see the Famous Ceremony
of the Keys. We were also given a guided tour and invited into the Yeoman Warder's Club for a meal
and large quantities of alcohol. Many thanks to David Cooper for his part in an excellent evening out   
despite the snow!
Max is busy organising still more outings and will tell you about these before we break for coffee. 
To last year's Committee I would like to take this opportunity to thank you all for your support, it  has  
been a pleasure to work with you. 
To Vice-Chairman Max and Secretary Val you have been excellent Ambassadors for the Group thank 
you for all your help.
Last but not least thanks to our dynamic Treasurer Daren for keeping a tight grip on our purse strings 
and ensuring that the Group maintained our Charitable aims.  Thank you Daren and alsoJohn Lover for
reviewing the accounts. 
Acceptance of Chairman's Report:-
Proposed David Ibbott and seconded by Trish Weston.
4 Treasurer's Report
Daren Bubb sent a PowerPoint presentation with voice over as he was away on business. 
The accounts showed a small surplus of £197.00.
Question raised:- what percentage of members have signed up for gift aid? 
Answer:-                66%
Acceptance of accounts:-
proposed by Trish Weston and seconded by John Bowman   - accepted.
5 Elections 
CHAIRMAN                            PROPOSED                   SECONDED                        RESULT
Linda Davies                          Roch Moppett                   Bob Crossley                       Elected
Max Power                            David Ibbott                       Andy Houghton                     Elected 
Daren Bubb                           John Lover                       John Mills                               Elected
Val Power                             Lesley Blunden                 Neil Lakeland                         Elected 
Election of other Committee members was en block
                                          PROPOSED                     SECONDED                        RESULT
Mick Cranfield                      Peter Bott                        Andy Houghton                    Elected 
Mike Ingram                         SallyAnne Clark              John Mills                              Elected
Bob Kiell                              Graham Aylard                Trish Weston                       Elected
Phil Mason                          Trevor Bridges                 Roger Powell                       Elected
Terry Nunn                         SallyAnne Clarke              Lesley Blunden                    Elected
Neil Regan                          Pam Medlock                  John Bowman                      Elected
Alan Rowe                          Charles Robert                Bob Crossley                       Elected
Jill Taylor                             Linda Davies                   Val Power                             Elected 
All officers and committee members were elected with no objections.
6 Presentation of Awards :- 
a) Stan Hawkins 
Stan Hawkins Certificate of Merit presented to Max Power.
b) Chairman's Award                     
Chairman's Award presented to John Bowman & John Mills
c) Certificates of Appreciation for 25 years of Observing 
Certificates of Appreciation for 25 years of Observing to David Hill, John Mills and Roger Vickery. 
Only John Mills was present and gave a short acceptance speech thanking the group for their 
appreciation of his long standing work. 
7 A.O.B
8 Refreshments
Christine kindly served the refreshments with lovely home made cakes - thank you Christine. 
9 Guest Speaker 
Superintendent Andrea Bishop spoke of her career in the Police Force and gave us an insight into
her present role in the Tactical Operations Unit at Coldharbour
 Linda Davies thanked everyone for attending and declared the AGM closed at 9.50 p.m.