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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

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