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Wootton Bassett 2010
Afghan Heroes RideReport and pictures by Wendy.
We were keen to register for this ride from the moment Martin told us about it - to support a charity set up by the mothers of soldiers who have given their lives for their country (and all of us) in Afghanistan. Any money raised goes to help other soldiers serving out there, and the families of those who have been killed or wounded.
In the end, three bikes from Black Country MAG registered for the ride - Martin, John and Ian. As we are also Moonshiners, and it was our rally weekend, it meant juggling our time and activities, but we were determined to be there in Wootton Bassett on Mother's Day. Every time we see a repatriation on the television news, John says "We should be there, with the people of the town, to show our respect" but we do not usually hear of the event in time to travel down; this time we had.
A good journey down - no congestion on motorway or other roads - and we arrived at the rendezvous on an airfield around 9 (stopped twice en route and petrol stop) and parked up on the runway. We went a walk round - to listen to speeches from the stage, have a snack, look at other bikes as they rode in and parked up. The Mayor had said that the local people were looking forward to the event. He said that normally the motorcades passed through the village in silence, and there were tears and sadness. Today was to be a happy day, and he hoped we would make as much noise as possible! (I hope he did not regret that invitation!).
The bikes were lined up down the runway - many hundreds in each row. Two rows were to travel the route at a time - a police car and two police outriders at the front and 2 more outriders at the back of each group. The police were brilliant, and made sure the whole procession moved smoothly and safely along the route, a journey of about 45 minutes.
Our ride to the villages and town left about 12.30. Every village was lined with people, there were groups at the windows of cottages and farmhouses or camped at the end of their drives. From the very young (babes in arms) to the elderly (wrapped in blankets and seated) who must have experienced several wars in their lifetime. It was hard to read some of the kind messages they carried, as our eyes kept filling with tears. Once in Wootton Bassett, the procession was halted about 3 times so that riders could rev their engines and fill the air with noise.
Worth pointing out that we did the ride once - the local people stood there for several hours to wave and clap through many more groups. The 'Afghan Heroes' Blog site contains the comments and experiences of many others who were there.
Awesome!! One of those "I was there ..." days. Well worth cutting our rally stay short, and starting out early. The 3 bikes from BC MAG (I was pillion, as usual) had a lovely ride back through beautiful countryside. Great day. Looking forward, now, to RTTW in October.
Some television coverage, and by late Sunday they were announcing that we had raised £100,000 and still counting...def worth it!!