PLEASE NOTE . . . . .

If you want to leave a comment and you don't have a Google account or similar, can you please choose the 'Name' option and put your name in the box, before you send your comment. Instructions are on the side bar. All comments coming in under Anonymous will be deleted. Thank you.

Friday, 30 August 2013

Join the club

The visit from Fran on Tuesday prompted me to look through all my Lady Truckers Club memorabilia. We were searching for some photographs that Fran wanted copies of. Amongst the pile of paperwork, I have the master copies of all the Newsletters I wrote for the club, and I thought it might be a good idea to post some snippets here.
I started the club in 1986, when I had already been driving for ten years. I hadn't met many women on the road, so the whole idea was to find some more, and offer my support to those who were having difficulties getting a job, and dealing with the discrimination and bullying, mainly from other drivers. The monthly newsletter was a way of passing on stories and information to the members. Starting with just a handful of women, after ten years we had over 300 members nationwide.
Truckfest Peterborough is one of the biggest truckshows in Europe, they were very supportive and gave us free space to set up our stand. This served the purpose of providing a meeting place for us, and to recruit more members. This is me and Fran at one of the shows. 
There were several other truckshows around at that time, and we attended most of them. Often I had been working all week, then going home and packing my car up, and heading out to a show on a Friday night to get set up for the weekend. Before we got our own teeshirts and sweatshirts printed, we got sponsorship from Keltruck, a Scania distributor from the West Midlands. Here we are at one of our earlier meetings, with a free space for our stand, from the Shell Diesel Drivers Club.  
I had loads of ideas to promote the club, even writing to royalty. This is a reply I got back from the secretary to Princess Anne. I made a collage of some of the members, to put in our scrap book. I took photographs at every meeting we had.

I've picked out a few snippets from the Newsletters, I hope you find them interesting.
MARCH 1986
Hi Girls, Have you all got your copy of March Truck and Driver magazine? If not go out and get one, we are on page 13, quite a good write up about the club. Up to now I have had five letters, four of them are prospective members, and the other one is from a future possible member. She is 15 years old and is mad on trucks, and dreams of becoming a driver. She asks if some of our lady members could please write to her telling her about the jobs they do, and she would be grateful if anyone could send her photo's or posters of truck to put on her bedroom wall.
MAY 1986
First of all let me say what a great time I had at the Truck Racing at Brands Hatch. I was very pleased to meet the other members who turned up, there was twelve of us. Val and Alison had their photograph taken with Barry Sheen, and we all had a group photograph taken for Trucking International magazine. I was interviewed for a feature on the club which should be in the next edition.
JUNE 1986
At the last meeting at Truckfest we had a total of 17 members turn up over the weekend. A few new ones that I hadn't met before, and some that were at Brands Hatch. Our next meeting will be at the Truck Racing event at Donington, meet at the Trucking International tent at 1pm. On Sunday there will be food and drink provided.
JULY 1986
We go from strength to strength, we now have 34 fully paid up members. and I am still waiting for some application forms to come in. Our next meeting will be at Silverstone on 16/17th August. Meet 1pm both days at the Shell Diesel Drivers tent.
We are now up to 51 members, brilliant eh! My firm B R S, are kindly lending me a rental truck to use for the meeting at Silverstone. I will chuck some bedding in the back if you need somewhere to kip down for the night. I will have stickers and badges for sale if anyone needs any extras.
Did you get your copy of this months Headlight magazine? I was dead chuffed to see my letter printed. I met the editor recently at Findern Truckstop, we had an enjoyable evening with the Headlight staff. Congratulations to three of our members who have passed their class 1 test this month. Well done, Jane, Chris, and Annette.
Our first Christmas party was a huge success. The lounge bar at Findern Truckstop was the venue and we easily filled it. The furthest distance travelled was Valerie from Hastings, and KT from Seaford. John and Martin from the Observer newspaper were snapping photo's for the Sunday Supplement, January edition, so look out for that.
I have recently managed to obtain quite a lot of publicity for the club. My interview on Radio Derby seems to have started a chain reaction. From this recording I was invited to appear on Womans Hour. I went to the Pebble Mill Studios in Birmingham, and I enjoyed it very much. Next I had a phone call from a guy who wants to do a feature for the Sunday Times. John from the Observer was at the party, and so was Radio Derby. I recorded an interview with Julia which went out the following Monday morning. Look out for a programme on BBC 2 called Night Moves, it's on Friday night. I am on it, and so is Dee, Christine, Angela, and Jenny.   
There's a heck of a lot more, I think I'd better stop. I might carry on with this another time, something to write about if I am stuck for ideas, and nice for me to look back on my time running the Lady Truckers Club. Hope you're not too bored, but hey, it is my blog, I can write what I like, ha ha. 
Toodle pip.


  1. I still have a lot of the news letters and member lists from way back and heaps of pictures etc think they are in a box thats not been unpacked yet from when I moved into the bungalow. I will watch out for your journeys here in the N/East of England and if you are in Scarborough it would be good to see you and perhaps have a bite to eat together. Are you bgoing ton try out the re-furbished YHA in Scarborough ? it looks a nice tidy place.

    1. Hi Danneke. I am not sure which route I will be taking yet. Depends on the weather, if I want to stretch it out and go further, or shorten it and head straight back. Thanks for the invite, can't say what will be doing at the moment. It may be that I hit Scarborough in the middle of the day, and need to carry on to get the miles in. Don't know how long I will walk for each day, that's why I don't book any beds.

  2. Hey Ilona, you certainly give good variety here on your blog. And, it was interesting reading, too.

  3. I thought of you this afternoon when I went to the feed store and the 18 wheeler was driven by a female. I talked to her a minute, I hope she got out of there before our holiday traffic got started.

  4. Congratulations on your house ownership...My keyboard has been replaced as the old one is kaput, so I was unable to comment earlier. Your mum sounds a great deal like my grandmother, who worked and saved and with my grandfather, had a mortgage burning party with friends and family when their house became their own. By that point, both had retired. Until I started reading your blog, they were the only people I knew who paid off their house. My generation and younger seem to think that living in debt is normal and something they cannot do anything about...

    Enjoy your walkabout...I look forward to reading of your adventures. Cheers!

  5. Loved the pictures especially the one with you all together. A lot of big hair in those days!

  6. I wonder if the 15yo girl got a job as a trucker?

    1. Hi Carol. I don't know if she did. But there was another 15 year old, from Kent, who did. Her father had a haulage company and she drove the trucks off road. As soon as she turned 21, she passed her test and got her class one licence. We were very proud of Laura.

  7. I loved reading about your past adventures keep 'em coming :)

  8. I love reading your posts Ilona! I am looking forward to your walkabout posts too. Congrats on paying off your mortgage - what a fantastic achievement. I hope that feeling stays with you a long time!
    Kim from Vancouver, BC, Canada

  9. Hi Meanqueen by royal appointment. I'm not sure but i think Princess Anne has an HGV licence to drive her horsebox.
    I passed my class1 in 1986 after 4 years on 7.5tonners. A lot of the things you mention are no more, Headlight mag was good to keep up with the laws but truck&driver lives on with only fancy trucks in it. Transport has changed but not for the better. Drivers don't have the same camaraderie now and me being an agency driver i get the cold shoulder when i go somewhere new.
    Thanks for the drive down memory lane.


To put your name at the top of your comment click on 'Comment as' the small down arrow, a drop down menu will appear. Highlight Name/URL, click on that, and put your name in the box. Ignore URL. Click on continue, then publish. Thank you. Nobody needs to be Anonymous, everyone has a name.