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Bikers show respect for troops

Thousands of bikers have revved through Royal Wootton Bassett in their own unique Ride of Respect to the town.

The largely two-wheeled tribute was created to commemorate servicemen and women killed in Afghanistan and Iraq. The event was also seen as a way of publicly thanking the townspeople for the respect shown during military repatriations.

Riders were greeted by cheering crowds as they drove through the town for several hours in waves of hundreds at a time.

The Ride of Respect was launched two years ago and attracted a massive 10,000 bikers last year. It passed through Royal Wootton Bassett for the final time as a brief but important era came to an end.

Military funeral repatriations moved to RAF Brize Norton last September after a period of almost four years at RAF Lyneham.

The repatriations all passed through the small Wiltshire market town where local thronged the streets to pay their respects on each solemn occasion.

In March last year the town was granted royal patronage in recognition of its role in military funeral repatriations. The honour was officially conferred in a ceremony in the town on 16 October last year.

"It has been a fantastic day. God knows how many came through today it is just too soon to say," said Mark Dommett. "But each village we passed through on the way was lined with people and each corner we turned was filled with people waving. It has been a fantastic turn out."

He said that riders came from all corners of the UK and beyond to take part in the event, adding: "Included among them were a rider from the army in Germany and a rider from the army in France."

He said bikers drove through Wootton Bassett in "pulses" of 500 to 600 at a time. All those taking part followed a 15 mile circuit which took them through Malmesbury on the way to Royal Wootton Bassett. The bikers rode through the town before joining the M4 and back to Hullavington Airfield, where the ride began, before heading home.

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