Adapted from Rotary Down Under Magazine, December 3, 2018 edition
Forget what you thought you knew about motorcyclists. These Rotarians are proof you can combine a passion for motorcycles with community service – leather jacket optional.
The International Fellowship of Motorcycling Rotarians
The International Fellowship of Motorcycling Rotarians (IFMR) is one of the largest interest group Rotary Fellowships, with membership from around the world.
Numerous chapters are spread across the globe, including Australia, Austria-Germany-Switzerland, Belgium, Central America, France, Great Britain and Ireland, Greece, India, Italy, the Netherlands, New Zealand, North America, Northern Europe, Poland, Portugal, Slovenia, South America, Spain, Turkey and Taiwan. Each organise activities in their own locales, open to motorcycling Rotarians and friends who want to take part.
“Today, Fellowships are more important than ever.They bring people together and establish real friendships all over the world, regardless of race, religion, colour or nationality,” said IFMR international president Dirk Jesinghaus, of the Rotary Club of Dillingen-Saargau,Germany.“IFMR means friendship, riding adventures, petrol talks and a lot of fun.”
Find out more on IFMR by visiting www.ifmr.org
Brian the Biker
Then district governor Brian Beesley led a motorcycle ride around District 9650 to visit every town that had a Rotary club in it. This photo shows the group at Kempsey in front of a sign promoting the nearness to finishing polio eradication. Kylie Gillies (on the sign), now a television presenter, was originally a Group Study Exchange team member from District 9650. These billboards were placed at Kempsey and Tamworth. In the group are Rotarians from Sydney, the district governor, a past Group Study Exchange team member (now Rotarian), as well as Rotarians from Kempsey.
PAST district governor Brian Beesley,of the Rotary Club of Gloucester, NSW, combines his passion for Rotary with his love of motorcycles. As an IFMR member, he has travelled overseas to participate in multiple bike rides alongside riders from all over the world.
On the IFMR Scandinavia Three Kingdoms Tour in 2017, a group of Rotarians rode through Denmark, Norway and Sweden – travelling by ferry between the countries. “There’s always challenges orienting to giving and receiving instructions in several languages – on this occasion, English, Danish, French, German and Swiss,” Brian said. “A lot of perspective is gained sitting around on the bikes and understanding how people from around the world interpret things differently. This sort of understanding and ability to listen is so important to solving the humanitarian issues we face as Rotarians.”
Brian also joined IFMR India for a ride – a place where one can expect the unexpected. “I’d sum it up as ‘organised chaos’. You round a corner and there is a truck coming your way, or a cow asleep in your path. Waterfalls and dirt, unsealed sections are just part of the fun.” Almost every locale they passed through showed evidence of Rotary’s contribution. “Sometimes a school water hydrant, sometimes a garden on the side of the road. We saw a sign in a hospital saying its very existence was owed to Rotarians, who saw a need and did something about it,” he said.
Brian saw Rotary in action firsthand when he was invited to speak at a Rotary club meeting in Chennai, after devastating floods flattened the airport and reduced the underprivileged areas to rubble. “The Rotary clubs in Chennai asked the poor what items they needed, such as cooking gear, and supplied it exactly as asked. All the families had lost different items, so giving them one-size-fits-all donations wouldn’t have made such a difference. People queued up for hours to receive items we could simply grab off a hardware shop shelf in Australia. No one was greedy, and all were thankful. It was a humbling experience and a real honour to take part.”
Closer to home, Brian participated in the 10-day IFMR Australia International Ride, with visitors from Germany, Belgium, Taiwan, Switzerland, Iceland, Denmark, England, USA, Norway and Finland. They viewed landmarks and plenty of Australia’s natural beauty – as well as enjoying some more unique experiences like watching South Australian police dogs showing off their skills in a special demonstration. “There were plenty of laughs along the way,” Brian said. “Try telling a Taiwanese rider, ‘That’s right – turn left at the next intersection,’ in the middle of Sydney!”