National Rally 2022 – An organisers viewpoint
September 17th saw the start of the 2022 National Rally at a Haven site up in Berwick-upon-Tweed. The reality is, however, that the plans for the rally started many months earlier when members of the Darlington Branch (Phil, Colin and Marc) searched for venues and started planning the rideouts. Site found, it was then up to the rally team (now including me) to tie down the final plans and hammer out the details. Dave and I visited the site in June, met with the then manager, and tied up the loose ends. Sarah (HOC Treasurer) was busy dealing with all matters financial and handling the bookings, and the raffle. The rally was promoted on the website, and social media and in the magazine (Phil, Ron, Sarah, and Stu). Band booked for the Saturday night (Marc). Programmes were designed (Jude) and printed. I went shopping and compiled the welcome bags.
Dave and I travelled up to Berwick on the Wednesday before the rally to drop off the carload of welcome bags and to cross the t’s and dot the i’s. New manager on the site was incredibly helpful and we confirmed the plans for the weekend.
We booked into a fabulous guesthouse, the East Watch Guesthouse, right on the seafront. We watched dolphins in the sea, from our bedroom window – it was magical. Thursday and we went off to visit Lindisfarne (first time for Dave, second for me as I visited when the HOC rally was held in Scotland a few years ago). It was a glorious day with stunning blue skies. We bumped into Jon and Jude (West London Branch) who had also decided to make it a longer weekend. If you haven’t been there, I totally recommend it. It’s got a very special feel to the island. The ruins of the monastery are fascinating and I even saw a film crew making a documentary for a new history/religious channel.
Later in the day saw us meeting up with some of our Darlington Branch friends – Tracey & Marc – and a fun time visiting Kelso in the rain, and then off to a pub for a meal and drinks until it was time to turn in. They were staying at the Premier Inn – where we met them again on Friday morning and did a bit of shopping to take to the rally site.
Friday and it was rally time! I started to setup the welcome area and Sarah then arrived with all the Regalia and booking in sheets. We were all set! The security team were to direct everyone to the welcome desk location -and it was all systems go. The absolutely best thing about the welcome team is getting to see everyone as they arrive, give them their free welcome bag, regalia, wristbands and a big hug (if they are huggers) and cake (when possible). There were a few hiccoughs along the way but we managed to resolve them in the end.
Friday night was a chance to sit, eat, drink and be merry and there was a lively buzz in the air as old friends reunited and new friendships were made. It’s one of the best bits of being a member of the club – it’s is truly a family. With all the joys and challenges that family brings to the table.
The food was great and the company excellent – everyone looking forward to the weekend.
Saturday saw a huge group gather in the car park for the ride out briefing, and they set off on a dry, clear morning (I think there will be a separate write up about that). Dave, Tracey, and I decided to do our own thing and we went out and about – planning a boat trip – but the sea had other ideas and conditions were too rough. So, we met up with the ride out at their planned stop for a spot of Afternoon Tea! What a brilliant idea that was (well done Marc!). I helped serve the jam and cream on the scones, and all tucked into what was an utterly delicious treat! Once all were back in the carpark on the square, I took a group photo with (almost) everyone in it. Then waved everyone off as they continued their ride out. What a great sight it was. Back at the site and our return coincided with theirs. This site doesn’t usually permit motorcycles – I think our stay may change that attitude going forward.
It was then Saturday night – party night! With everyone now gathered again, more banter, laughter and great food at decent prices too. The energy ramped up when the band started to play. WOW! Fantastic – they were high-energy, spot-on musicians and amazing vocals. The dance floor was packed with rally goers enjoying themselves. It was great to see those in fancy dress fully participating – special mention to the Pac-man crew headed by Marcus and Mary – hilarious! We also had knights and Vikings. Great sports, all of them.
The party ended and we all headed off to either party on in our own units or visit others. All in all it was a great night.
Sunday morning came too fast and breakfast with Phil, Marc and Tracey and others from the Darlington branch, in Marc & Tracey’s van. Tracey was kind enough to take Dave breakfast in bed! (He is so spoilt). Marc & Tracey very kindly took a load of breakfast to the band who had stayed on site overnight too – they were very grateful. We had to wavy bye to some rally goers as they went home, but more remained.
Everyone did their own thing on Sunday – some heading off to Lindisfarne on their bikes – others staying local and just enjoying the fabulous coastline and countryside. Sunday evening, and we were back in the venue ready for a final evening of love and laughter. Thanks to Brian (Northants Branch) for the quiz – sheets were handed out, the winners got a big tub of celebrations and a ‘trophy’ for being a pair of smarty pants, the last runners up got some tins of tuna (as its brain food). Unfortunately, I misjudged how many folks would be there – so – apologies to those who weren’t able to take part in the quiz.
The raffle took place and then Dibble (HOC Chairman) said a few words, then yours truly did too. All who had a hand in the organising of the rally were thanked, guests thanked for coming and the site staff too for doing a great job.
The disco started, but it was a bit late by then as the raffle took longer than anticipated (loads and loads of great prizes – thanks to Sarah’s hard work and contributions from club members), and most of us said our “see you later’s and called it a night as most had very long journeys to make on the Monday. What a weekend it was. Huge thanks to all concerned – those who made it happen and all who attended! Dave & I are already looking forward to the National Rally 2023 – in Kent. See you all there!