A group of 33 members of the Walden Bikers group gathered in the bright winter sunshine on Saffron Walden Common recently,
ready to leave on a 9am to ride to Halton in Cambridgeshire. This was
the RV point for motorcyclists from all over the CB postcode area, to
gather for the annual Cambridge Bikers Christmas Toy Run to Addenbrookes Hospital.
carpark was filled to overflowing as hundreds of bikers and their
families gathered for refreshments and to hear Pete Vasey give the
This was the biker who rekindled the event back in 2013 and
has organised it every year since, along with the full support of Sgt
Gareth Williams and his team of Police riders. Sadly, for Sgt Williams
it was to be his last Toy Run as he will be moving on to a new role. It
was down to PC Simon Burgin to present Sgt Williams with a special
momento of his time with the event - a snug-fitting golden santa hat!
10 o'clock, a tally of 377 bikes set off in convoy, escorted by the
police outriders, and assisted by the safety riders, on route along the
A603 through Harston and on into Cambridge.
The roar of the hundreds of
bikes brought out householders in their Sunday-morning attire (including
slippers and pyjamas!) who all waved and filmed on their mobile phones.
Cars passing the other way tooted and waved and those cars wishing to
join the carriageway had a wait in excess of 7 minutes to allow all of
the motorbikes in the convoy to pass by.
were motorbikes of all sizes, including bike and sidecar outfits along
with trikes and also a contingent of scooters. Some rode as they were,
others went to great lengths to decorate their machines with tinsel and
santas and indeed, some spectators might have been mistaken for thinking
it was a continuation of the Santacon from Saturday, by the amount of
santa-clad bikers that passed in front of them.
convoy wound its way through the streets of central Cambridge, stopping
briefly to regroup at the end of Downing Street, and then progressing
along St Andrew's Street where the rumble once again drew out curious
onlookers, this time, the congregation of the Baptist Church came
spilling onto the pavement. Pressing on directly into the sunshine along Hills Road, the bystanders continued to wave and film the roaring, snaking trail.
Arriving at Addenbrookes Hospital roundabout,
the buses were kept from their schedule as the convoy wound its way
into the carpark past a mixture of bemused bystanders, and those who
were similarly dressed in seasonal outfits. Waving and cheering, staff
from the childrens wards had brought some of their patients down to
watch the arrival of these albeit, temporary bearers of joy and respite.
With crash helmets swapped for santa hats, a red trail of santas made
their way into the hospital concourse where the generous and
kind-hearted bikers handed their gifts to the waiting elves. Sorting as
they went, 15 cages of gifts were collected, everything from dolls both
big and small to vehicles, again, big and small. There were books,
games, toddler toys, stocking fillers and of course, soft toys.
Talking to student nurse Abby Jones, from ward C3 she said
"I watched the arrival of the bikers with two of my patients, I was
welling up. Now collecting all these gifts it is making me so emotional"
She said that "All the staff will work out what will be suitable to give to each child."
by the generosity of the bikers, they were going need some time to do
this! Meanwhile all the favourite seasonal tunes were being played by a
local wind band who were tucked into a corner of the dining area. Sadly,
due to the occurrence of winter viruses on the wards, no children were
able to come and watch the event as in previous years but Im sure they
will all be delighted. It can never be nice having to stay in hospital
but to be a child in hospital over the festive season really is no fun.
Families with children in
hospital now will be pleased to know that a little bit of extra joy has
been brought to their children this Christmas. This is all courtesy of
the one group of road-users who often have a bad press. Far from it!
They are some of the kindest and most generous people around...I think I
can speak from experience there!
must go to all the riders, the volunteers both on the road and at the
hospital. The police - PC Simon Burgin, PC Andy Loop, PC Keith Emerson
and Sgt Gareth Williams (who are "allowed a bit of fun and enjoyment
too!"). And finally, Pete Vasey aka Chief Santa, who once again organised the event.
May we wish as Happy a Christmas as possible to all the children who are in hospital at this time.
The weekend saw me covering the last of this years Christmas Lights switch-ons. This time I was back in East Anglia in the north Essex town of Great Dunmow. A whole year of planning had gone into the event, with the High Street closed off to traffic on this Saturday afternoon, and instead of cars, there were rides, games, stalls and even a (rather challenging) ice rink in their place. An enormous inflatable stage filled the width of the road and it was there that the local school chidren sang, the dance schools performed, No Limits Street Band gave a lively performance and finally at 6pm, the jolly man himself, counted-down to the big switch on.
It was truly an afternoon for all the family.
For more pictures, check out the Dunmow Broadcast p6-8 and the online galleries Lights Switch-on and Ice Rink
(There have been issues with some browsers not displaying the galleries - apologies if this happens to you...they are working on it!)
The season of Christmas light switch-ons has started. Having covered the first of the season in Cambridge last weekend, I moved from East Anglia to West Cork for the next switch-on. Sad it was that the famed Olympic silver medal-winning brothers, Gary and Paul weren't available to do the honours in their home town, but that didn't stop the crowds gathering.
Opening with a procession headed by the fire brigade, the civil defence, then assorted vintage tractors and cars, the children watched as Santa and Mrs Santa made a grand entrance in a horse-drawn carriage. Then it was down to two lucky girls from the National School to perform the honours. What a moment for them to remember.
The lights are now on and the countdown to Christmas has begun in Skibbereen.