The Formation of the IFMR
|Written by Tony Moyle - IFMR Founding Member (Australia Chapter)||he Rotary International World Convention - Melbourne May 1993.
Many IFMR members had put in a lot of effort preparing for the World Convention. Amongst the many invitations that had been sent out to members and DGs, was a number of letters addressed to the World President of Rotary, Cliff Dochterman, inviting him to join IFMR members on a ride whilst he was in Melbourne. With the busy schedule of a World President, you would hardly expect a personal response, however we worked through the correct channels, and whilst the responses were non committal, there seemed to be a thread of hope that it may happen.
Cliff's well known bubbly personality gave us some confidence that it may all come together. David Ingerson and I rode to the convention (750kms), David on his brand new BMW K100LT, and me on my trusty old K100RT. We had previously send a mountain of printed material, apparel and other parfinalia across to the hard working Melbourne Rotacyclists, who had set up the IFMR Fellowship Booth in the House of Friendship in the Tennis Centre.
When David and I arrived at the Tennis Centre, there was a quite a group Rotacyclists waiting there on the steps for us it was great to put faces to the many names of the people who had been phoning and faxing us on the progress of the Booth, the Ride and the Dinner! Without being biased, it is fair too say that the display at IFMR Booth was amongst the best there, and the two Triumph motorcycles on display were real crowd drawers. Picture: IFMR Booth (House of Friendship), 1993 World Convention Melbourne The booth was manned by members (a number of then from overseas) for the entire duration of the Convention, and many new members were signed up quite a number from other countries, and lots of District Governors took IFMR promotional materialback to their Districts.
Being optimists, we had made contact with the police in Melbourne, and asked if we could have a police escort for the planned ride with the World President. Since the Convention was being held in two main venues the Tennis Centre and the Convention Centre, and we had obtained the World President's agenda, our plan was, hopefully, to transport him from one venue to the other. To this end, the Melbourne IFMR members, had arranged for two motorcycles fitted with sidecars, to be on standby. In fact there were quite a few members who said they wanted to ride with the World President if it happened, and each had given details so they could be contacted at short notice (remember, this was all before the advent of mobile phones!)
Early on the second day of the Convention, David and I were to be found outsider the doors of a Melbourne theatre! Inside were hundreds of Rotarians being addressed by the World President! By the laughter, they were really enjoying his delivery! Not quite so easy outside for David and myself, as we were trying to convince the World President's minders that we should talk to their master. Persistence eventually paid off, and Cliff, followed by a couple more minders bounced out the door!
He had obviously read our letters of invitation, knew what we were about, and he was quite quick to agree to a ride. Our question was When? His answer, This afternoon! This short notice was going to put all of or plans to the test.
A phone call to one of the Melbourne members, and the task of ringing the local riders was covered. The police had been pre-warned that there maybe little notice, and when phoned they said they would have two motorcycle officers at the entrance to the Convention Centre prior to 1pm. The next thing to do was to visit the Convention Centre, and sort out with the local Rotarians who were controlling traffic how this was going to work. We also had to inform the security staff what was going to happen. Mid morning, David and I rode up the spiral drive into the Convention Centre. The drive is just wide enough for two vehicles to pass, and when we reached to top (the point at which we intended picking up Cliff), it was mayhem!
The local Rotarian in charge of traffic control was almost at the point total frustration! It took us ten minutes to tell him of our plans, the reason it took so long he was constantly rushing off to sort out some crisis or anther! When he finally processed what we had said, he told us that it was impossible, as we would never get a group of bikes up here, due to the chaotic traffic! We said we would see him at 1.30pm.
Now there was a wait!
How many would turn up? By 12.30, most of the23 riders, including the two sidecars, had assembled at the entrance to the Convention Centre, along with the two motorcycle police, plus a police car!
At about 1pm, we swung our grand plan into action, and had the police car park across the entrance and only let in traffic that was vital. All this was unknown to the overworked Rotarian at the top on traffic control, and he was amazed, but much more relaxed, when we rode in as a group at 1.30pm as planned!
The meeting that Cliff was addressing went a little over time, but he soon emerged from the function, laughing and as usual, and with some effort squeezed himself into the nearest sidecar. We offered the second sidecar to one of his minders, but none of them were smiling it would appear that they had not been told of this little adventure!
Some lucky Japanese exchange student got to ride in the other sidecar!
The minders were quick to jump into the two black Mercedes, and drop in behind the bikes, but when we got to the bottom of the Convention Centre the two motorcycle cops lead the cavalcade, and the police car bought up the rear. The two black Mercedes were left to fight their way through the busy Melbourne traffic the best they could!
The trip to the Tennis Centre too about 20 minutes, and Cliff had declined the offer to wear a helmet, and he had a absolute ball waving to the crowds that were on the street, all perplexed by the escorted group of bikers passing by.
Word had got out of what was happening, and there was a welcoming crowd at the entrance to the Tennis Centre. They were all highly amused at the effort it took to extract Cliff from the sidecar. The sidecar seating was of quite generous proportions, but Cliff was of even MORE generous proportioned! Cliff in his usual way was laughing and thanking the sidecar rider, but his laughter turned to astonishment when the ride removed HER helmet. Cliff was quickly whisked off to the IFMR Booth, where he was happy to chat and have his photo taken will all and sundry. It was a wonderful informal 20 minutes before the men from the black Mercedes came to claim their man!