Leather-clad riders salute the services with a parade

8:30am Monday 2nd June 2014

By Damian Fantato

ABINGDON woke up to the sound of revving engines yesterday as the annual Ride of Respect took to the road.

About 3,000 bikers gathered at the town’s Dalton Barracks at 9am and rode to Carterton to raise money for charity.

As the bikers paraded past, hundreds of families lined the route, sitting in the sunshine in deckchairs and waving the Union flag.

Some of the bikers were former servicemen and women, while others were civilians who wanted to pay tribute to the sacrifice British forces have made in past and present conflicts.

Bike enthusiast Anne Cole has been organising the event since 2010 with the help of her friend, Julia Stevenson.

She said: “The event is to salute our troops, both current and past, and to say thank you to the families of the fallen for what they have given.”

Now in its fifth year, the Ride of Respect originally went through Wootton Bassett, Wiltshire, until repatriations moved to RAF Brize Norton.

Riders now make their way to Carterton’s Alvescot Road recreation ground, near the town’s memorial garden, via Cumnor, Eynsham and Bampton.

Gary Taylor, 37, from Watlington, lost his right leg while serving in Afghanistan with the Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment three years ago.

Before being driven to Carterton on the back of a three-wheeled motorbike, he said: “This is the first time I have been to one of these. It was brilliant.

“There has been a lot of talk about people not doing enough for serving soldiers and the lads who are coming back injured, but it was brilliant to see so many people at the event.”

Biker Steve Roberts, 47, who travelled all the way from Rochdale, Lancashire, said: “We like to support our heroes.”

Steve Blundell, 53, from Chippenham, Wiltshire, who served in the RAF for 20 years, said: “Any occasion that raises money for forces charities and involves bikers has got to be a good thing.”

All proceeds will go towards the Royal British Legion’s Poppy Appeal.

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