Councillor Olivia Hunter, Mayor of Cheshire East, presented the Spirit of Ecstasy Trophy for the Best Car Associate on Test to Phil Hughes (left, above).IAM 2017 AGM Spirit

Sareda Dirir, Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner for Cheshire, presented the Mullock Shield for the runner-up in that category to John Sherratt.2017 AGM DPCC plus Mullock reduced

The Bentley Trophy for the Best Young Driver on Test was won by Richard Greatorex, who was away at university, so Councillor David Brown, Congleton Town Mayor, presented it to his father.KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

Sarah Sillars, Chief Executive Officer of iAM RoadSmart, presented the Best Biker Trophy to Andy Lumley. On his Advanced Riding Test, Andy achieved our Motorcycle Section’s first iAM F1rst pass.IAM 2017 AGM Best Biker adj

Our 2017 Annual General Meeting, held on Wednesday 26 April at Astbury Golf Club, was a great success and our key note speaker was CEO Sarah Sillars.

Sarah opened her keynote address to the AGM by commenting that she was both impressed and energised by the commitment of iAM RoadSmart’s volunteers. Out of 92,000 RoadSmart members, 5,000 were active volunteers. (The Trustees were volunteers, too.)

It was a measure of the iAM’s standing that we were the only road safety charity invited on to the Department for Transport Minister’s Forum. The Minister had told Sarah, ‘Don’t tell me what we need [to have or to do to improve road safety]: you take control and do what you can about it.’

Our commercial customers included BP, E.ON and the Health and Safety Executive. We were the nation’s biggest provider of road safety rehabilitation courses: we were in effect a ‘Driver Retraining Academy’.

Sarah introduced the different skill levels of learning a foreign language as a parallel to what we need to provide for drivers and riders. Our Advanced Tests were the equivalent of degree-level language studies. But just as many people going overseas wanted only enough language skill to be able to get around in another country, so many of our potential customers wanted only to improve their driving or riding, without having to go all the way to Advanced Test level. These people didn’t want our present product: we needed to offer lower levels of guidance as well, which would make us more accessible.

Modular training courses would help us to achieve this: we must maintain our standards, but communicate with more people. Sarah’s target was that we should raise our number of ‘involved’ members to 121,000 this year.

Before Sarah became CEO, the IAM had a 23-page strategy document. Now, our strategy was defined in seven bullet points.

At present, while 95% of drivers and riders among the general public thought they were good or very good, we had only 4% market recognition. Sarah was emphatic that this needed to improve. We needed to move online with a popular site like Mumsnet and Gransnet to attract interest from the wider road-using public. We needed to capture not just the ‘Saturday and Sunday evening’ market, but the ‘Monday to Thursday evening’ market as well. As part of this process, we were introducing new online training modules.

Overall, Sarah set out a prospect of a refreshed and re-energised iAM, and after the meeting she expressed her appreciation of our members’ positive support of the direction we are moving in.