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Ride To The Wall, National Memorial Arboretum

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by Tony Collins (subscribe)
I am a freelance writer specialising mainly in health and education and living in Staffordshire. Find me on Linked In
A Moving Spectacle As 20,000 Bikers Pay Tribute To Fallen
Thousands of motorcyclists from all over the country rode to the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire to pay their own spectacular tribute to armed forces personnel who have died during the last 70 years.

Ride To The Wall, National Memorial Arboretum
The convoy of flag-bearing motorbikes arrive on site

The Ride To The Wall event, which took place on October 3, attracted around 20,000 bikers from across the UK as well as Europe and beyond.

Ride To The Wall, National Memorial Arboretum
Motorbikes queuing up outside the National Memorial Arboretum

Now in its 8th year, the ride to the National Memorial Arboretum in Alrewas, and the service of Remembrance that follows, is a moving tribute to the 16,000 servicemen and women named on the Armed Forces Memorial wall since the end of World War Two.

Ride To The Wall, National Memorial Arboretum
A fitting greeting awaited the riders on arrival

Such is the size of the event, which started in 2008 with around 2,000 riders, that there were 11 starting points dotted around the UK including M1 motorway services in Sheffield.

The motorcycles began arriving almost immediately after the National Memorial Arboretum opened its doors at 9am, and continued to enter the grounds well into the afternoon.

Ride To The Wall, National Memorial Arboretum
Parked motorcycles as far as the eye can see

The majority of paved routes within the Arboretum grounds, as well as every available section of grass, were turned into parking areas for the thousands of motorbikes of all shapes, colours and sizes.

Ride To The Wall, National Memorial Arboretum
The Arboretum was taken over by motorbikes for the day

But the main Millennium Avenue path was reserved for the group of bikes that carried the various flags, ranging from Union Jacks to Help For Heroes banners, ahead of the main Remembrance Service.

Help for Heroes, Ride To The Wall, National Memorial Arboretum
Help for Heroes emblems were clearly prominent

Entertainment was provided throughout the day, including Lichfield Rock Choir, The Band of The Rifles, and performances by the Royal Signals White Helmets display team, with giant screens erected either side of the Armed Forces Memorial.

National Memorial Arboretum, Ride To The Wall, The Band of The Rifles
The Band of The Rifles performing in front of the Armed Forces Memorial

Up in the sky, the focus was on a couple of flypasts, including a 1930s Tiger Moth biplane.

And there was no shortage of food and drink refreshments for the visitors who had made the journey to get there.

Ride To The Wall, National Memorial Arboretum
Riders continued to arrive until well into the afternoon

Since the first Ride To The Wall in 2008, supporters have succeeded in raising almost 320,000 towards the upkeep of the National Memorial Arboretum - not counting this year's event.

Tree planting began at the Arboretum in 1997, since when it has been a special place honouring those who have served, and continue to serve, the country in many different ways.

Ride To The Wall, National Memorial Arboretum
The arrival of the flag party ahead of the Remembrance Service

The site is now home to some 50,000 trees covering 150 acres, as well as more than 300 dedicated memorials, with the number continuing to grow every year.

The Arboretum is visited by around 300,000 visitors a year, with the main focus of attention being the Armed Forces Memorial wall, which commemorates those who have been killed on duty or as a result of terrorism from the end of World War Two to the conflict in Afghanistan.

The Camp Bastion Memorial on a different day

There is also the Basra Memorial Wall from Iraq and the recent addition of the Camp Bastion Wall from Afghanistan.

But the focus isn't totally military, with a large area devoted to police officers who have fallen while on duty, as well as other areas devoted to the fire and rescue and ambulance services, and national charities.
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Why? A Truly Awe-inspiring Spectacle Not To Be Missed
When: 3 October 2015
Phone: 01283 245100
Where: National Memorial Arboretum, Croxall Road, Alrewas, Staffordshire DE13 7AR
Cost: Free
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