Afghan Heroes Wotton Bassett Ride
March 14th 2010
an event one day we will say "I was there"
some photographs used in
as ever click on picture to enter slideshow, click back on browser to escape
album 1 mainly on airfield Album 2 overviews and on the run
Social networking sites are steadily proving to be a major driving force for pushing issues and ideals that people feel strongly for. One of the biggest successes in recent years has been in the promoting of various singles like Jeff Buckley and Rage Against The machine.
It has also heightened our awareness of some charities and events that may have been overlooked.
One of the major areas of interest has been in the support of our armed forces and especially for the wounded and fallen soldiers. One such charity The Afghan Heroes Charity was started in 2008 by the mother of a fallen soldier.
One young girl thought it would be nice to have a ride with a few friends through the village of Wotton Basset in Wiltshire, on mothering Sunday which was apt as the Charity was set up by a mother of a fallen soldier. Wotton Basset is a small Wiltshire town which over the last few years has grown in notoriety for their honouring of soldiers repatriated to the UK and raise some money along the way..
Posting this idea on Facebook, it was not long before others decided this would be a good idea.
It was soon copied onto many internet Forums as well, and some magazines.
Within days it soon became obvious this was due to be something special and an interactive webpage was created for registration and eventually for booking a timeslot to arrive.
With so many people booking the registrations were closed several weeks early..
Originally a local RAF Base was to be the end of the run, but with so many registered by early February a new scheme had to be put in place.
All booked in and with my allotted time slot on a day promising blue skies and warmth i headed off with a local owners group down the M$ towards Swindon.
As we got closer so more and more bikes were on the road(and huge queues in the services), there was a great feeling about this event
It has to be said that the organisers and volunteers (from internet, RBLR’s, Ogri mcc) did an incredible job at Hullavington Airfield the designated start point for the ride. Checking entry passes, collecting entry fees, a donation of a minimum of £5 per rider and pillion and sending us to our allotted areas. And with various food vans, Loads of toilets and a stage for presentations and regular announcements.
It didn’t matter which way you looked there were bikes and trikes of all types.
I have never ever in my 30 years of riding seen so many bikes in one place of so many different it was fantastic, and mere photographs cannot do the event justice.
There were scooters, veteran, vintage and all sorts of modern bikes. There were all sorts of owners clubs, bike clubs and groups of friends and above this overall there was a quiet aura of respect for the day.
There may have been many different reasons why people attended, some were veterans, others had friends and relatives in the forces, many because it was for charity and some just because their mates were doing it, but in the sun on a airfield we were united and patiently awaited our time to ride (we had to wait three and a half hours).
To keep traffic disruption to a minimum, bikes were sent out in batches of 500, and each time one row went, the vacant space was soon filled with another 500 who patiently waited. And often it was when one of these lines moved you eventually saw a bike not noted before, like the pretty Benelli 750sei, or some friends not noticed before.
Once on the ride we moved along at a good pace for a mass run, down country lanes and all the way cheered on by locals, which as many said was odd as we were there to honour the villagers not the other way around.
There were several mayors and lots of town criers which was a unique experience.
People old and young were cheering and waving and holding signs such as “I Love Bikes” “Bikers Welcome”
Once in the town of Wotton Bassett itself which had been
made one way for the day, there were TV Crews, photographers and loads of Public
cheering us on and where they could there were bikes parked up everywhere.
Sadly I did not stop so at the end of the ride through the town, as the run then dispersed to all areas north south east and west, east for me.
It was then as I was riding home I felt a bit of a comedown quietly during the day a feeling of being part of such a homologated group had risen and all of a sudden I was on my own again.
However a day on and I have that warm glow of being part of something that was more than special.
There are many figures being thrown around of the total charity donations some certainly it was between £75,000 and £100,000.
Congratulations must go to the organisers and assistants, the local police and all residents for such a wonderful day.