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Foggy and Hammond at charity rally

I'm a Celebrity winner Carl Fogarty and Top Gear star Richard Hammond led from the front today after joining thousands of other bikers at a charity rally.

Fogarty, riding a Ducati scrambler, and Hammond, astride a "boring" BMW R1200RT, both praised the work of the Midlands Air Ambulance before setting off on the charity's fifth annual Bike4Life fund-raiser.

About 3,500 bikers turned out in the sunshine to join the 23-mile ride-out from Shrewsbury to the Bike4Life festival at RAF Cosford.

As well as raising much-needed money for the Midlands Air Ambulance, Bike4Life also promotes road safety.

Speaking before the start of the event at a park-and-ride site in Shrewsbury, Hammond said: "I love anything that brings together the biking community anyway, and particularly if it brings it together with an eye to the services that we need, like air ambulances.

"We're all here for the same reason. We love bikes and we're aware of the fact that like any other pastime, you can get injured and when that happens the services of the air ambulance can be the difference between life and death.

"So this is showing support for the work that they do for us and for everybody else."

Both Hammond - who was flown to hospital in Leeds in 2006 after a crash involving a jet-powered dragster - and Fogarty have previously had reason to be thankful for the air ambulance service.

Echoing Hammond's comments, former World Superbike champion Fogarty told reporters gathered in Meole Brace, Shrewsbury: "I think I have used it quite a few times over the years.

"It's a service we definitely need. I think it costs about £6 million a year to keep one of these things in the air."

Hammond said he had considered taking part in the rally on a "civilianised" version of one of Fogarty's race bikes but decided against it.

The TV presenter explained: "It's a treasured possession and I thought brilliant, I'll come on that. And then I thought no, because I'm not riding that next to Foggy himself, I'll feel such an idiot.

"So I'm on my boring bike."

Before the rally, Hammond was also asked if he had any news on the future of the BBC's Top Gear programme following the decision not to renew Jeremy Clarkson's contract.

Hammond told reporters: "Everybody knows what's happened. That's all been in the news. The future, nobody knows yet do they?

"And I cannot and won't speculate further than that. So don't know, let's see. It'll be exciting whatever."

The Midlands Air Ambulance, which relies solely on donations from the public, operates three emergency helicopters covering 5,500 square miles including Birmingham and the wider West Midlands, Staffordshire, Gloucestershire, Worcestershire, Herefordshire and Shropshire.

Organisers later revised estimates of the number of bikes taking part in the rally to 5,000.

Fogarty, who was allowed to ride at the head of the convoy, in front of escorting police outriders, tweeted: "What an amazing feeling leading 5,000 bikes #goosebumps."


From Belfast Telegraph