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Around 7,000 motorbikes to join tribute to the fallen
Thousands of motorcyclists will make a special pilgrimage on Saturday 6th October to honour those who have died while serving their country. More than 7,000 bike riders will descend on the National Memorial Arboretum near Alrewas in Staffordshire from all over England and beyond for the annual Ride to the Wall event. This unique service of Remembrance is attended by motorcycle enthusiasts from across the country, as well as from overseas, all seeking to pay their respects to those who can "no longer ride by their side". From 8.30am on Saturday 6 October the thousands of riders will leave one of 11 designated start points to ride to the Arboretum, all arriving at the 150 acre site by 1.00pm. A service of Remembrance will be held at the Armed Forces Memorial at 2.15pm.
Motorcyclists approach the National Memorial Arboretum for Ride to the Wall 2017
There will also be musical entertainment on the day from The Band of the Parachute Regiment, Sincerely Yours, Gari Glaysher, Abigail Carter-Simpson, and Oliver Moriarty. Last year's Ride to the Wall marked the 10th anniversary of the special event and raised a record amount of £150,000 towards the upkeep of the Arboretum. This also increased the total amount donated by Ride to the Wall to the Arboretum, which houses more than 370 memorials and 30,000 trees, to more than £790,000. Sarah Montgomery, Managing Director at the National Memorial Arboretum, said: "Ride to the Wall is always a special day at the Arboretum and the thousands of motorcycles parading onto site is a sight to behold. We look forward to welcoming the crowds again this year for what is certain to be a moving and emotional service remembering the more than 16,000 individuals whose names are engraved on the national Armed Forces Memorial."
Among the motorcyclists taking part are Rob and Mandy Sartorius-Jones who will be part of the 850-strong contingent of riders that will set out from Drayton Manor in a procession led by Martin Dickinson, founder of Ride to the Wall, and featuring the charity's patrons and flag bearers. Their son, Signaller Ian Sartorius-Jones, joined the Royal Corps of Signals in 2007 and served with distinction in Iraq and elsewhere but tragically died while on operations in Afghanistan in January 2012. Rob, a former RAF fireman had always harboured an aspiration to learn how to ride a motorcycle, and Ian's death spurred him on to pass his test. Shortly afterwards Rob and Mandy discovered Ride to the Wall and were welcomed into the family with open arms. The thousands of riders who make this annual pilgrimage to the National Memorial Arboretum are active all year round, raising awareness of their cause, participating in fundraising activities and always ready to lend help to others in need.
Rob and Mandy Sartorius-Jones with a photo of their son Ian
Rob said; "Ride to the Wall and the National Memorial Arboretum have helped us come to terms with Ian's death and introduced us to people who have faced similar circumstances. We now know that we are not alone. When you set out on the ride each year and see the thousands of bikes ahead and behind you it puts a lump in your throat. You know that everyone is there for the same reason, to celebrate lives lived, to pay tribute to those who have served our country, and to remember those who have made the ultimate sacrifice."
Martin Dickinson, Founder of RTTW, said: "Ride to the Wall ensures that the names on the walls of the Armed Forces Memorial will never be forgotten as we pay tribute to those who can no longer ride by our side. Each year we are delighted to raise funds toward the on-going upkeep of the National Memorial Arboretum, ensuring that the site can continue to be free to access and remain a fitting place of Remembrance for all who have served our country."