Saturday, 5 March 2016

I went to a party.

Hello. Well well, it's 22 years to the day when I sat down to dinner with Edwina Currie, at the Lady Truckers Women of Achievement Awards Presentation Dinner Dance. The idea for this event came to me when I saw an article in a transport magazine about an awards ceremony in London for top people in transport. There were twelve photographs in the article and only one women among the suits and ties. I thought it wasn't fair, it should have been more balanced, where were the women? 
Only one thing to do, I decided to organize our own awards ceremony for our fantastic Lady Truckers. I wrote to Edwina Curry to tell her of my plans, she lived not far from me although I had never met her. I needed the support of a well know person which would enable me to approach possible sponsors. Edwina wrote back and said she could arrange it for us to have the event in the Terrace Bar at the House of Commons. I was amazed, I would be able to get lots of publicity for our club. 
Sadly I had to write back and decline the offer, it wouldn't have been very practical for us, where would the Lady truckers park their trucks? I wrote back and thanked her, and said I had chosen a hotel in Leicestershire and she was very welcome to come. I had a letter back accepting the invitation, whooopeeeee, I was dead chuffed. 
I set about looking for sponsors, I wanted £100 for each of the seven winners in each category, plus a cut glass engraved goblet. The seven runners up were to get £50 each. The day kicked off at 12noon when the ladies began arriving, some of them pulled into the car park in their trucks, their sleeper cabs being their bed for the night. My ex boss at Leicester Heavy Haulage sent his driver with their newest truck to put on display.  
Here are the seven categories that the women could enter for, and the sponsors providing the prizes. The United Road Transport Union were the main sponsors, they paid for the souvenir brochure layout and printing costs. The ladies had to prepare their own entries, produce a folder with any information that might help their bid for a prize. Photographs, certificates, magazine articles, statements from employers and friends. I found four people who held top positions in large national transport firms to judge the entries, and sat round a table with them as they made their choices.

I sold advertising space in the brochure. One of the pages was bought by the company I had learnt to drive a lorry with. J. Coates is still going now, and has expanded to several depots all over the country. I worked for them for a while as an agency driver. 
The other people in this photo are the Truckfest Team, Live Promotions. They were very good to us over the years and gave us free space at the truck shows for our club stand. The URTU was also supportive, inviting us to share their marquee when the weather wasn't so good.

I hired a Radio Derby presenter to be master of ceremonies and announce the winners. A friend of mine made a big cake in the shape of a lorry, and I was presented with a silver engraved tankard as thanks from the members for getting them all together. It was a belting night, one that will stay in my memory forever. 

Here are some of our members having a good time at the shows. I remember most of their names, Wendy, Alison, Jenny, Linda, Annette, Anita, Jane, Margaret, Soo, Elizabeth,  and Sarah, 
I've still got copies of the magazine articles we were featured in. We were in all the truck magazines, and had a six page article in Marie Claire, the top women's magazine at the time. Local newspapers also printed the story. Just as the media have pestered me over the last few weeks, they also did then. I remember doing several radio interviews, usually going into Radio Derby studios to be linked up down the line. I even spoke to Radio 702 in South Africa. They rang me on my mobile as I was travelling down to Shepton Mallet for a truck show, and I had to go into a truck stop to ask if I could take a call on their landline.

I was so busy at that time promoting the club. I loved my job, and running the club added another dimension to it. I became a campaigner for women in transport, I made a lot of friends, and it also became my social life. I like to take a trip down memory lane sometimes, I have got so many good memories.

It's been dry and sunny today, but oh so cold. The ground is still boggy from the heavy rainfall so I haven't been able to get out into the garden. Shopping bags have been made, and more stitching on the picture. Heidi has perked up a bit, she likes it on the kitchen worktop so I am not going to move her. I have had to move my food preparation elsewhere.  

Thank you for popping in, have a good Sunday. Catch up soon. Toodle pip.

29 comments:

  1. Your wonderful stories never cease to amaze me. What a life you are living, your attitude is very inspiring. I don't like Edwina Curry though...haha.

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  2. This is completely captivating and I admire the work you put into this event. My sister and her husband retired last year from being long distance truckers; they drove an incredible number of miles per year. Possibly 180,000 miles per year? Or is that wrong, I don't recall.

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  3. How fantastic, what a wonderful inspiring lady you are. I really enjoy reading your blog everyday, thanks for making the effort it is appreciated by so many 😄

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  4. Fascinating. Thanks for sharing. x

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  5. I really loved reading this post! I'm always glad when you post about the Lady Truckers. You're very admirable--if you see something you want done, you do it yourself!

    Glad also to read that Heidi is feeling better.

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  6. laura blackpool5 March 2016 at 21:41

    I love that your like us. Heidi likes the worktop so you move your food preparation. This is exactly what happens in our house with our animals lol. Glad Heidi had perked up a little. And love today's post. You are such an inspiration.

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  7. So inspiring to hear of your achievements - what happened to Women in Transport eventually? I am depressed to see today that trials for "driverless HGV lorries" will start soon in the UK. Where will it all end?

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    1. Hi Anna. After running the club single handed for seven years it became too big and was taking up a lot of my time, this was before computers. I built the membership up to over 300. Members said it wasn't democratic because I was making all the decisions, they wanted a committee. That was the time to hand it over. I went to a meeting where they elected a committee, and I knew then it would only be a matter of time before it fell apart. It went on for another couple of years or so, but there were squabbles and changes within the committee. It was propped up for a while, but just ran out of steam.

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  8. And don't you look lovely in the photo! Good news about Heidi.
    JanF

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  9. Ilona, you never cease to amaze me. You have led a very interesting life! Thank you for another wonderful story! Your positive outlook and your practical, can-do attitude are always inspiring.
    Patricia, Montreal

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  10. Ilona you just keep on giving. Its in your nature to help and support others. You deserve an award for all your achievements.

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  11. Thanks so much for sharing the story. An amazing life you lead, both past and present. and once again, Incontinue to find that the folks most friendly and kind, the more likely they are to have done extraordinary things. Just like you.

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  12. Another great story, and such a lovely picture of you.
    Whatever next.....keep amazing us Ilona.
    Glad Heidi is feeling a little better.
    x

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  13. Thanks much for sharing your wonderful stories...Glad to know Heidi is feeling a bit better. Best to you!

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  14. Ma'am, you always cheer me up. What great photos. Goodnight. hugs, kitxxxx

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  15. What a wonderful story - we enjoyed every word of it
    and also the great pics Ilona.
    So pleased that Heidi has perked up.
    Wendy (Wales)

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  16. That sounds like a wonderful event you organized for the lady truckers. It also sounds like you got a tremendous amount of good out of it. I hope Heidi grows stronger and stronger every day1

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  17. What an inspirational read as we celebrate International Women's Day.
    Carolx

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  18. Loved this post, reminds me of the song "Sisters are doing it for themselves"

    And just a heads up - your 1939 friend made it to the BBC News! Here's the link http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-35734889

    Linda xx

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    1. Thank you for that, Linda. It's a smashing film.

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  19. Edwina Currie? I hope you didn't serve eggs for dinner!

    Shame you got a tankard, a man's present! Typical blokes can't see past their own interests.

    Glad to hear Heidi is doing ok.

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  20. You are amazing Ilona. I am reallllyy!!!!

    enjoying your blog.

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  21. Thank you Ilona, that was very interesting. You are inspiring and interesting. A go getter if ever there was one. I am sure that you must have been very popular in your working life. Glad to hear that the fur baby is feeling better.

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  22. So you were an inspiration back then as you are now, why doesn't that surprise me LOL. Thank you for a very interesting post. It makes me think I should diary my own experiences in affirmative action decades ago, it's easy to forget how different things were back then.

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  23. I love those knitted birds. They would be great for yarn bombing the local wildlife place :-) Have been for my walk today in the lovely sunshine. Rain is forecast tomorrow so i thought I had better stir my bones and get walking this morning.

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  24. THAT brought back some memories Ilona, I still have the programme and some pictures of that event also the get together we had at Ironbridge YHA . I still see Paula now and again, she turns up occassionally on my door step and we do the odd phone call now and then, she is still much the same !! Love the bird pictures at the gallery and looking forward to seeing your new ? wall hanging, I have knitting on the go and some tapestry which I pick up now and then. Hope Maizies better and Rockey is keeping well he is such a lovely little dog.

    Danneke.

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