Once the IFMR was granted official recognition by Rotary International, the first task was to ensure that the different groups of Rotarians who had been riding together, joined the Fellowship, and contributed to its development. This was a challenge, as most motorcyclists tend to do their own thing, and not be too regimented. Add to this the fact that most Rotarians are busy people, and just for good measure throw in all the different personalities. To complicate things even more, English was not the first language for many, and some did not speak it at all!
Two of the groups in North America deserve a mention! One group rode under the banner of "Hells Rotarians - The Mild Ones" and "The Retreads"!
The second task was to promote the IFMR, and to grow its membership. Back in 1992, Rotary International ensured that each of the regional Rotary magazines had one page dedicated to encouraging Rotarians to join a Fellowship. At that time they listed 36 registered Fellowships that members could join, ranging from Amateur Radio to Yachting.
"Click here for enlarged copy of Fellowship Application Form"
Rotarians would tick a box (or boxes) of those Fellowships that interested them, and post the form off to RI headquarters in Evanston, Illinois, USA. Amongst the many RI employees at Evanston, was Abigail McNear, Supervisor of International Fellowship & Special Programs. Abigail would process the forms sent in by Rotarians, and send a copy to the relevant Fellowship.
Just as an aside, both David Ingerson and Tony Moyle, developed quite a friendship via letters, faxes and phone calls, with Abigail, and on one of David’s trips to the US, he called into One Rotary Centre in Evanston, and met her - one more nice thing about Rotary!
It was fascinating, and sometimes frustrating, to see what some Rotarians had expressed an interest in joining. Sometimes up to 15 forms would be received, all from one club (often in India) where just about every one of the 36 boxes would be ticked. It was rare that any response to the membership package sent would be received.
Only forms which had the "Motorcycling" box ticked would be sent to the IFMR Secretary, but it didn't take him long to work out that the chance of someone joining the IFMR was remote, when they had also ticked for example, the Egyptology and/or the Bird Watching and/or the Pin Collecting boxes. However membership packages were still posted to each person who had ticked the “Motorcycling” box! Even sending these packages could prove problematical, as some of the hand writing was nigh on impossible to read, and add to that addresses in some countries are written quite differently to the way they are in Australia.
Partly in an attempt to promote the IFMR, and partly to promote Loxton, members of the Rotary Club of Loxton would, twice a month, raise their glasses in a toast to a Rotary Club in some other part of the world. Members present at that meeting (plus the guest speaker) would sign a card, and it would be posted off with IFMR information and local promotional material. A few new members were picked up this way, and the Rotary Club of Loxton received the odd letter back saying that their Club had been toasted at one of their meetings!
Back then, many new members were very keen to help promote the Fellowship, and they would sent promotional packages containing photos, membership forms, the structure of the Fellowship, an ever growing International Directory and of course a few copies of the latest IFMR Newsletter. These members would promote the IFMR at Rotary District Assemblies and Conferences, and spread the word at other motorcycling functions.