It has long been established that success breeds success. Why do we say this? Take the enthusiast who owns a pre war car as an example. There is a limit to one’s enjoyment of a hobby if isolated, so to speak. There are the odd occasions where the car is taken out, but without a plan. Then there is the maintenance and the solving of problems alone. Often it is the case that the car is left for another day; the trouble being that time runs away, the car is out of sight and out of mind, resulting in a distant memory of times and enjoyment passed.
And so it is the case of many an Austin Seven owner. Lots and lots of cars do exist in Ireland, but where are they? True a good sprinkling of them are up and running in Northern Ireland. True that an even greater number are in Eire, but alas forgotten but not gone.
This is where the story and Ian Clayton of Bantry steps in. Ian has a keen and life long interest in the car that was manufactured for the ordinary family man, that was reliable and comfortable and came at an affordable cost. For the last 20 years Ian worked hard and diligently to build up a register of cars and owners. Although he tried to activate owners into action for meeting and driving, the broad spectrum of owners across the country really was too much especially as he lives in Bantry in the heart of West Cork. Nonetheless, his virtue of tenacity meant that his tedious record keeping would prove to be of value at some future time.
In parallel to all of this there was a group of old car buffs who learned from personal experience that a one marque car club provided benefits way beyond associations that catered for mixed tastes. A goodly number of them were Model T owners.
In the early part of 2020, word got out that there was an appetite to form a club for the ubiquitous Austin Seven. Encouraged by the availability of register that Ian had maintained over the years, a select group of seven met in Bandon, Co. Cork in early January for the purposes of forming a club that would cater for the interests of Austin Seven owners in the Island of Ireland. The group of seven signed the Constitution of a company limited by guarantee and shortly thereafter The Irish Austin Seven Club clg was incorporated.
The next step was to interrogate the register. Every one whose name appeared was either telephoned, written or emailed with a view of gauging the level of support. Ian’s register had about 80 contact points. In short time we had established that 25% of them could not be contacted or had disposed of their cars. Of the next 25%, while contact was made, the respondents were either too old or their cars were laid up for ages and they did not have the mojo to get them up and running.
That left the other half of the register. This bunch of Seven owners, amounting to 40 or so, were delighted with the initiative. Some has roadworthy cars and others had cars that needed to be tidied up. This later bunch would not be able to get going until next year but promising to undertake a winter project to do the business.
By the Autumn of 2020, we had 25 members signed up. Membership fees were set at €10.00 per annum. It was agreed that we would collect the fees for 2020 and 2021 in one take and requested a once off joining fee of €30.00. Appreciating the self help approach by the new club, a professional firm offered to defray the costs of setting up and initial running expenses and made €1,000 available. So, from the start one could say, we have a solid mass of members and a bountiful supply of cash capital, sufficient for our needs with every encouragement from a membership across the 32 counties of Ireland.
Social and personal interaction is very important in a club. Covid-19 came smack bang in the middle of our setting up process, meaning that social distancing ruled out formal gatherings and so forth. However there is always a solution to every problem. Individual members let it be known on the grapevine that they intended to head out on a Sunday Picnic run. If anyone wished to come along that was their choice. And so on the last Sunday in July, and for that matter August and September, very enjoyable spins in parts of rural Ireland were visited, they being Mount Melleray, Glen of Aherlow and the Nire Valley.
To keep the communication thread alive for our emerging club, we tackled the area of the internet and a website. Some of our officers had a deep knowledge of administration matters and not so deep when it comes to information technology. They say it is not what you know but whom you know. This is where Michael Beeney of Belfast enters the scene. Michael is an acknowledge expert in web sites and all computer things. In addition he is a philanthropist who provides a pro bono service for old car clubs in the setting up and design of a club’s presence on the world wide net. His business model seems to be, create a goodly number of old car sites, train and encourage the members into populating their website, and by creating an interest from third parties, he may be rewarded from advertising through internet traffic.
We were fortunate to come across an amateur photographer from Clonmel. Invited by Colin Pressey, a long time Seven owner, Ian Hunt accepted an invitation to come along with his camera and drone and have a good time with this picnic group. Yes, it all happened and before we knew it we were presented with a bountiful supply of photographs, and as a special bonus for us, a video of our journeys.
Putting this together was a task in itself, for us in any event. However, not so as far as Michael Beeney was concerned. All Michael asked was, “present me with the text of your picnic run, email me with the images and I will do the rest”. True to his word it happened. Our web site is a work in progress and it is heading in the right direction.
So, here we are in Autumn 2020. In this year, we formed our club, canvassed membership across the island of Ireland and enjoyed picnic runs with newly formed friendships. The glue that binds us together is the communication thread, namely our website. Does success breed success… we think so.
Find Us On…
The Lost Garage
Appreciation of Michael Beeney’s Internet Services
The Irish Austin Seven Club were most fortunate in having been introduced to Michael Beeney from Belfast, best described as an innovative and creative web master of considerable value and appreciation by those of us in the old car movement.
When called upon for assistance in getting our essential tool of communication with members and the outside world, Michael willingly gave of his time and offered direction on the steps that we were to take in the setting up of our web site.
We followed his advice to the letter and before we knew it we were alive on the www. Without content, a website is worthless. The opposite is true. First off, we approached our Registrar Ian Clayton who had been diligently amassing details and information about all things Seven, from cars and people and everything in between, to see what material he had in stock and its availability. Without hesitation Ian presented our Club with volumes of data, pictures and memories, whereupon, having received, Michael uploaded it all. Now we have presence of interest on the internet!
Individual members let it be known that a picnic run was in the offing on the last Sunday of the summer months. There followed a goodly number of seven owners and cars supported by an amateur photographer complete with camera and drone, taking time our in friendly company, all enjoying themselves. Each to their own, as it is said. Michael received the text write up and images via email and uploaded all for us and others to enjoy. Now our site has buckets of photographs of cars and people. Nothing like photographs to garner interest.
As we approach the autumn of 2020, our newly formed club is in a sound position to consolidate its website, garner further copy and content from wherever we can and end up with a communication facility for the betterment of all. How this would happen otherwise without the benefit of Michael Beeney’s support and knowledge is anyone’s guess.
May we say without fear of favour that we are deeply appreciative of Michael’s support, encouragement patience in helping us to create and maintain a stylish presence on the www.
Main Image Credit: Irish Austin Seven Club