We organised our first Regional Event and invited Roche Bentley, MG Owners’ Club Secretary from England. He accepted.
Thirteen young lady members organised the first sponsored charity event and pushed Sheila’s Midget from Belfast city centre to the Ulster Folk & Transport Museum where the event was taking place. Radio link-up to Downtown Radio half way en route to Cultra proved very exciting and amusing (a Car Club member lived too convenient!).
At the Folk Museum, 51 MGs were on display and inside the museum a film show and talk were being given by Roche. Northern Ireland had never seen anything like it. A cheque for £1,075 was handed to Dr Lyons, Consultant Radiotherapist at Belvoir Park Hospital for cancer research.
When Austin Rover decided to re-launch the MG range with an MG Metro 1300, it was the MGOCNI who provided the guard of honour with about fifteen cars at Kane’s of Comber on the night of 4th May 1982 when the car was launched to the public. The Press took notice and it was good for the Metro and the Club.
For our second Regional Event, we linked up with the Jaguar Driver’s Club and Lord Dunleath. Roche Bentley came across once again and cars appeared from Londonderry and Dublin.
The World Champion auto-test driver in a cut down MG Metro put on a display and the event was the biggest we ever organised and again a sum was donated to the Radiotherapy Centre, who we had agreed to adopt the Centre as our charity as it was locally based and had a personal link to a few members.
Future events included a run to Ballymascanlon in the South to meet the MG Enthusiasts Club. Lord O’Neill also heard of us and invited the Club to his yearly show. I think that year it poured but it was a small beginning and showed the other clubs we had arrived.
We had many more exciting events over the following years with new faces joining all the time. It is the members who joined at the beginning who should be congratulated. George and Nancy Barker were members No. 15 in 1981 and among the original lot still participating are Derek Armstrong, Ray Hamilton, Earl McClintock and Desi Boyd to name but a few who are still active members.
A further recruitment drive was organised to coincide with the change of venue. Due to jazz sessions in the Barclay we managed to reserve a private bar in the Ivanhoe Inn where the club still meet once a month.
It was fun and very time consuming to help set up the Northern Ireland branch of the MG Owners’ Club but we are proud to have helped to provide the ground work for a Club which has maintained a high standard and gone from strength to strength.
The club currently has 175 members but always welcomes new members including those who have modern MG cars.