ORGANISE YOUR OWN BIKER GATHERING
Ride To The Wall: ‘I thought we’d get 200. We got 2000’
The eighth Ride To The Wall saw overo 7000 bikes ride to the National Memorial Arboretum (NMA) last October for a service for fallen servicemen. From humble roots it has grown into a 20,000-strong gathering and looks set to exceed £500,000 in total donations for the NMA.
‘RTTW 2015: BE PROUD, YOU MAKE A DIFFERENCE!’ declares the home-made banner over the motorway. Cheering crowds fill the verges, waving delightedly back at the thousands of motorcyclists packing the lanes below.
Ride To The Wall was originally intended to be a oneoff. Founder Martin Dickinson, a former serviceman, went to a Remembrance Sunday service at the newly-opened National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire and was moved by those honouring the fallen at ‘The Wall’, the Armed Forces Memorial.
Being director of the Nene Valley Harley-davidson Owners Group, Martin planned a ride to the memorial gardens and a small service of remembrance for 2008. “I figured if I got 10 riders from each chapter we’d have around 200 people,” Martin remembers. “I turned up to find 2000!”
Since then the event has received the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service and become a pilgrimage of respect for motorcyclists and supporters worldwide. An estimated 7100 bikes now gather at 11 start points to ride together to the NMA. The afternoon remembrance service for the 20,000-strong crowds now includes musical performances, emotional speeches, wreath laying and poppies cascading from soaring planes.
“We don’t advertise,” explains Martin. “People are so passionate about the event they bring friends and family, like charity pyramidselling! I look out at the crowds and I’m lost for words.”
Martin’s advice on organising an event
“We’ve never strayed from our original concept of a service of remembrance and people are proud to return every year. But remember, if you get the cause right you might get more people than expected.”
This year’s event…
The next Ride to the Wall will be on October 1, 2016. For more details visit www.ridetothewall.org.uk