Bikers in respect ride for soldiers
Bikers have roared off on a Ride of Respect to show appreciation of soldiers' sacrifice in Afghanistan.
Some 10,000 set off in waves of 500 from Hullavington airfield in Wiltshire to ride through the town of Wootton Bassett, scene of many moving homecomings for service personnel killed in the conflict.
They have paid donations to the charity, Afghan Heroes, to take part in the event.
Laurence Phillips, a spokesman for the charity, said: "This has been organised by the biking fraternity from across the UK, and it is their way of expressing their gratitude to the soldiers, who have given the ultimate, and also to the town.
"Wootton Bassett shows a spontaneous reaction when the people hear another soldier is coming through, they come out of the shops and line the streets, and the bikers want to recognise that."
Last year, when the event was held for the first time, 16,000 bikers took part, with pillion riders taking the total to 23,000, and £110,000 was raised.
This year the ride has been deliberately kept smaller, with 10,000 bikers, plus 3,000 on pillion, but with other rides also taking place elsewhere in the country, it is hoped to raise £130,000.
The charity was set up in September 2009 to provide support for those directly involved in the conflict.
It was established by the mothers of eight servicemen who died in 24 hours two months earlier, and aims to help the families of those who have died as well as providing support for those on the frontline and returning service personnel who have witnessed the loss of their colleagues.
The event won the approval in advance of police. Chief Inspector Charlie Dibble of the Wiltshire force said: "It's wonderful to see so many bikers registered to take part in this event for such a worthy cause, however other motorists who are planning to travel along the proposed route that day should be aware that traffic delays are likely and I would urge them to consider other routes."