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2015 INTERNATIONAL WEEKEND, 'HANDS ACROSS THE SEA', WESTENHANGER, HYTHE, KENT
Friday 23 to Monday 25 May 2015

RREC International Weekend 2015

The setting for this enhanced South of England Rally was Folkestone Racecourse. The idea was to bring our RREC members in from the continent to meet with the South of England Sections at a venue that was reasonably accessible to them from the Channel Tunnel and the Channel ports, and for us and our three Southern Sections, at the same time to extend the hand of friendship to other car clubs. We now know that a lack of active reaction to our invitations by the various clubs sadly resulted in many owners of cars in those clubs not even being aware of the event. With the exception, it has to be said, of a highly enthusiastic response from the Morgan owners.

The unsung heroes of these events are the marshals, the gofers, those who do the preparations, and never forget the organisers who on this occasion were sadly, in the early days, very thin on the ground, the majority of the management team having dropped out early in the setting up process. Ted Meachem (Central Southern Section Secretary) launched himself headlong into the event, posting requests via last minute.com for help, albeit from those of us who had no prior experience of organising such an event.

A new venture begat new experiences:-

I was tasked, along with my fellow committee members, to attend numerous pre-event meetings. During these we gradually learned what the expectations were and who apparently volunteered to fulfil them!

I was to contact and coordinate companies who provide services to our members. These included all those who advertise in the 'RREC Advertiser', and several who don't. Trying to persuade many was, not unexpectedly, an uphill struggle. No previous track record of holding this event meant we were unable to accurately forecast attendees. However, several did dip their toes in the water and we were able to put on a good mix, from polishes to stainless steel exhausts, model cars and enthusiast related books. Richardson Hoskens, the Club insurers (also a sponsor), Guy Salmon, P&A Wood, Flying Spares, and several offering classic cars for sale. Hobbs Parker, the largest local auctioneers, held a mainly Rolls-Royce and Bentley auction with some other interesting cars as well. It seemed that quite a few cars did not reach their reserves, but we understood that HP were in discussion with potential buyers and vendors in the hope of completing a few additional sales.

The AA arrived with three of their breakdown vans, two modern and one Morris 1000. They assisted a few visitors with starting problems - naturally, none of our members required their assistance!


The Gala night was attended by just over seventy people. That was fewer than we had hoped for but the evening went well and the food was very good. Before dinner, a presentation was made to Ted Meachem by the Central Southern Section Chairman (photo right). The section committee had made a decision to present Ted Meachem with a small gift on behalf of Central Southern membership, as a thank you for all the hard work he had put into setting up this event. I was delighted to hand him a pair of RR monogrammed, set in horse shoes, silver cufflinks. Taking this opportunity to re-present him with the Richardson Hoskens trophy plaque. Regrettably, the original was dropped and broken by the writer, whilst showing it to the gathering at the Sir Henry Royce Memorial service ceremony in April.

Chris Tween - Central Southern Section Chairman

  Ted Meachem and Chris Tween

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A new event is always a challenge when it comes to promoting it to the wider community and the International Weekend was no exception. The media, especially television and radio, are very pleased to accept a press release but it will only get on air if nothing usurps it like higher priority news or events. 'South East Today' TV and Radio Kent were kind enough to accept our press release. Magazines, newspapers and specialist periodicals are more likely to accept editorial for inclusion and various local magazines and online newspapers accepted our offering. Certainly 'Rye's Own', 'Hastings Town' and 'Hythe & Romney Life' did us proud with large editorial pieces supplied by RREC Central Southern Section, in three consecutive editions over three months. A number of the local newspapers required a link to their locality and we were able to supply them with basic information about cars attending the show from their area and the 'Tunbridge Wells Times' was a case in point. Local attractions also played a part in promoting the event by putting up posters for us at their sites or museums. The Romney Hythe and Dymchurch Railway kindly put posters up at its three main stations. It is always difficult to measure the effect that a promotion drive has on the footfall at an event but the overall benefit to the RREC has to be positive.

Gary Wragg - Central Southern Section Committee Member

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In addition to Peter Allchurch's efforts, I took charge of inviting twelve car clubs of Jaguar, Daimler, Aston Martin and Morgan from the German speaking countries Germany, Austria and Switzerland. As did Peter, I contacted both their chairpersons and their secretaries, though the only two, rather disappointing responses were a single letter from the Austrian Jaguar Enthusiasts' Club apologising for our event being 'too far a distance' for their members, and a group of five Aston owners from Vienna cancelling their initial attendance due to an unexpected death. In all, I did three waves of detailed invitations and reminders respectively between September 2014 and April 2015, with copies to the Austrian RREC section, should any queries from guest clubs arrive at their front door. Alas, also from them no replies within that generous period of seven months.

However, to the organising team around Ted Meachem it was very encouraging to welcome RREC members from Belgium, the Netherlands, France and Germany, notably from the regenerated SZ Register who used this event as their inaugural meeting!

In conclusion: In my view this was the first truly international RREC event deserving this description - for which it was high time! Although basically organised by the Sections usually running the South of England rally, as a consequence, the next one - and there must be a next one - should include to a far greater extent the responsibility of The Hunt House for inviting all continental sections to participate. Finally, could this lead to one of our geographically suitably located sections taking over this task and organizing a future RREC International Weekend on the Continent?

Fred Fruth, Baden nr Vienna, Austria - Central Southern Section Member


Morgan Sports Car Club

Early last year it was decided that the hand of friendship should be extended to those cubs representing the very 'Best of British' motor car manufacturing. Accordingly in August last year I wrote personally to the secretaries of twenty prestigious car clubs, not by e-mail but using good old fashioned postage, inviting them to join us either for the weekend or individual days and on the basis that we anticipated our own members from Europe joining us, suggesting that their own European membership would equally be made most welcome. Of the twenty invited the VSCC and Invicta Owners declined fairly quickly as they had their own functions arranged for the Bank Holiday. The Aston Martin Owners' Club and Morgan Sports Car Club were most enthusiastic and supported the event over the Bank Holiday as did the Armstrong Siddeley Owners' Club to a lesser extent. I was never sure if the Jaguar Enthusiasts' Club was with us or not, they sent out mixed messages and on the day only one car turned up. The really big surprise was the Bentley Drivers' Club who from an initial whole hearted support slowly withdrew to the point where they would not respond to subsequent e-mails other than on one occasion when we were accused by a Section area Chairman of trying to poach their members! I sent out, at three monthly intervals, news updates of our plans to all invited guest secretaries as they developed together with 'invited guest' club application forms. It is bewildering why thirteen secretaries of the twenty invited clubs simply ignored my initial invitation and all subsequent mail.

Peter Allchurch - Central Southern Section Committee Member

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So what's it like to be a gate marshal at the International Weekend? Certainly interesting, and certainly rewarding. The latter because I enjoy collecting money - and in such good causes - but, more so, having the opportunity to meet and greet so many friends in the Club that I don't see that often, as I waved them down to collect the very professional, glossy programme I was dishing out. The former because being on the gate brings little problems to be solved, when entrants come up with circumstances which don't quite fit the regulations. For example, a Continental member who turned up on the day with only Euros. So I asked him for €25, and was proffered a €50 note. £20 in change complicated my accounting. Otherwise, I think only two members managed to escape the entry fee - by very devious means, which I decided were not worth arguing about, especially when causing a queue.

Two things made my life easier: a horse box, equipped with table and chairs, where my papers wouldn't blow about, and where I could have had protection from the weather, had it been necessary; and a very willing team of helpers to guide to the right place the many RREC members who found it difficult to follow instructions! I was also in close proximity to the boot of my Brooklands, which was well equipped with coffee, and something stronger too, for when the sun was over the yardarm.

The best thing of all, in what was a great weekend, was meeting on the gate someone I hadn't seen since 1973. Being German, he might not have been there had it not been for 'Hands across the Sea'. I subsequently hitched a lift in his Phantom II when he went to collect a trophy.

Finally, two vignettes from the Hythe Imperial Hotel: a pigeon flying around my bedroom; and a seagull walking about on the roof of a pristine small-boot Silver Dawn.

Martin Coomber - South Eastern Section Treasurer

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Caravanners are generally an independent breed and despite the last minute lack of 240v hook-ups, there were only two no-shows and in the end eighteen of us (plus one cat) in ten caravans/motorhomes and one tent were adequately accommodated in the dedicated area allotted to us. While the facilities may not have been up to Caravan Club standards, everyone mucked in and a good time was had by all. We had the advantage of being able to walk back to our temporary and comfortable homes and come out again later and refreshed for a stroll around the cars and stalls for some exercise and appreciation for all that had been efficiently organised for us to enjoy. A bonus was that we could all walk back home after the Gala Dinner!

Robin Brailey - Central Southern Section Committee Member


Award Trophy Rosette Judge Winner
Best Pre WWII Club Motor Car Shield
Green Tony Leach
(UK)
Peter Schmitz's 1933 RR Phantom II Saloon - Reg ALF 677
CSS Trophy for the Best
Post WWII Club Motor Car
Glass Chalice
Yellow Marinus Rijkers
(NL)
Ken Harwood's 1995 RR Flying Spur - Reg VY 4
Trophy of Elegance Art Deco Purple Juergen Buech
(D)
Chris Mott's 1961 Bentley Continental Flying Spur - Reg 349 MTX
Montague Trophy for the
Best Club Motor Car of the Day
Large Spirit
of Ecstasy
Red Peter Allchurch
(UK)
Jim Rankin's 1950 Bentley Mk Vl - Reg LNE 400
Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Ltd Trophy
for the RR which has travelled the
farthest distance to the event
Small Spirit
of Ecstasy
Blue Fred Fruth
(A)
Ralph Bunger's 1953 RR Silver Dawn - Reg PFO 658
Around 900 miles

Peter Schmitz's 1933 RR Phantom II Saloon   Ken Harwood's 1995 RR Flying Spur   Chris Mott's 1961 Bentley Continental Flying Spur

Jim Rankin's 1950 Bentley Mk Vl   Ralph Bunger's 1953 RR Silver Dawn

Photos: Chris Tween