Goodaye all, it is good to be back home in this great southern land. It is hard to describe how I feel, elated from the trip, sorry it is over, good to be back with family, daunted by what is in front of me to make the trip worthwhile and get value, not only for the Churchill Trust who sponsored the study tour, but also for myself to try and make the time to follow up.
My report is now nearing 50 pages with many photos included, I have started emailing those I met and got business cards from, but that pile is tall and each has to be individual, at least that is my view. I could just draft a hello, good to have met you and thanks, but each had a different aim, intent or focus and if I do not recognise that and seek to gain the most value from each meeting, then I have possibly failed the chance to make the most from the trip.
Even now there are things I wish I could have done better, or arranged better, but the two things the Churchill people stress when you first discuss such a trip, is that you must leave time for the things that pop up unannounced and that you should not then miss and that you should also take some time for yourself to enjoy it, you do not have to work 24 hours a day. That will only burn you out and possibly leave you to miss, or not get the best, from something.
As I have said, I was aware of the Churchill Fellowships, having had people suggest it to me a few times over the last ten years. One of those had been a Churchill Fellow and suggested it could help with my road safety efforts, even then. Once I started down the path of the TIV though, I felt I had a commitment to those who had supported me as sponsors and that it would not be fair to then head off on a major trip. With this TIV prime mover now 7 years old and the trailers coming up ten and starting work on the next one, which I will commit to for five years, the timing seemed right.
I did not honestly expect to be successful and some I have spoken to say it is somewhat unusual to be successful in your first application, but there are probably not many truck drivers who have applied and that point of difference may have helped. About 1200 people a year apply with around 100 fellowships awarded. There are some with a specific focus, music, the arts, health or children for example and of course, there was one for road safety.
The application process is fairly rigorous with a written application, then two personal interviews and I was able to do the first by phone, with I think, 5 peers asking questions, though was told I could be at a disadvantage to others who turned up, but it was a lot to go from Dubbo to Sydney for a 15 minute interview with the costs involved, let alone the time off work. This one was about your knowledge and depth of immersion into your field of endeavour, but the second one was come to Sydney or fall out of the process and was more about your passion and had a table full of ten or more asking you questions about what you wanted to do, why, where you wanted to go and why.
Then you either progressed to the state finals or were passed over and then each state submitted their finalists and from that pool, the 106 chosen in 2016 were awarded Churchill Fellowships. With permission and in consultation with the Churchill Trust, I deferred for a year, both to give me more time and to co-ordinate the timing and what to do with the gap, between the Convoy in the Park in England and the Great American Truckshow in Dallas, my planned start and finish points.
Setting up things so far out and so far away when you have never done it before, can be a challenge, yes there are those who can help, but with trucks and road safety, to my knowledge it is something not very regularly put together and certainly, not in the eyes of the public. Churchill Fellowships are highly regarded in many fields and those who have gone before me and who will certainly follow, have achieved exceptional things, from defining education for children at a disadvantage, to improving the health of widespread and or specific groups, to outcomes in the arts and music unlikely without the extension that such a fellowship can provide.
I have said it already I know, but thanks to all from the Churchill Trust, the judges and to all others who applied and or have since completed their fellowships. If you have a passion and a knowledge of a subject and believe you can not only learn and extend that knowledge or value to all Australians, then please look at the Churchill Fellowships and consider applying. Or if you know someone that could benefit from such, suggest looking at it, to them.
I am off back to work now. Back in the truck I have spent the last 7 years of my life driving, primping, cleaning, showing at events and taking passengers in. I do not only drive, I load and unload my cargoes as well and whilst I might average 50 hours driving each week, there is the other time involved as well, let alone the shows and events. I normally leave home Sunday, as I will soon and will most likely return next Saturday, so my working week is 5 or 6 full days living and working in the truck.
You may well go to work and or work more hours and could well spend time driving to and from work, but how many of you live in and at, your work and then what is your quality of life there? Good facilities, kitchens and toilets and showers available, good food and company? I ask this not for you to feel anything for me, but to ask you to consider the lifestyle and the things an intestate truckie gives up, so you can have your food, clothes, fuel and your car. At Convoy in the Park, they had shirts that read “WITHOUT TRUCKS YOU WOULD BE COLD, NAKED AND HUNGRY” and I would simply ask that you consider this, till next we meet. Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.