Thousands of motorcyclists will visit National Memorial Arboretum for Ride to the Wall

Tue, 02/10/2018 - 08:58

Ride to the Wall

Over 7,000 motorcyclists will make a pilgrimage to the National Memorial Arboretum, in Staffordshire, on Saturday 6 October, for the annual Ride to the Wall (RTTW) event. This unique service of Remembrance is attended by motorcycle enthusiasts across the country and from overseas, all seeking to pay their respects to those who can ‘no longer ride by their side’.

Rob and Mandy Sartorius-Jones are part of the 850-strong contingent of riders that will set out from Drayton Manor in a procession led by Martin Dickinson, founder of RTTW, 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, Canada, Denmark, Germany, and the UK. As a keen lover of sport and a former junior British Taekwondo champion, Ian had ambitions to represent GB Armed Forces in their martial arts team when he returned to the UK after his latest tour. However, in January 2012, sadly Ian died while on operations in Afghanistan.

Ian’s death made Rob, a former RAF Fireman begin to contemplate aspects of his own life. He had always harboured an aspiration to learn how to ride a motorcycle, but life had always seemed to get in the way. Ian’s death helped him put life in perspective and, not wanting to have any regrets, he was spurred on to pass his test.

Shortly after Rob passed his motorcycle test and with them both still struggling to come to terms with the loss of Ian, Rob and Mandy discovered RTTW 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.

When Rob and Mandy retire they plan to move to Spain, but every October they have committed to mounting their bike and riding to the wall.

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.

Mandy added: “Whenever we walk up the steps of the Armed Forces Memorial you see that each and every one of the heroes commemorated on its vast walls are given the same prominence regardless of rank, race or background. It doesn’t matter if they were generals or privates, they were brothers in arms who did incredible things and lost their lives while serving their country.

“Sometimes when the weather is good we just jump on the bike and head down to the Arboretum - it is our sanctuary where we can celebrate Ian’s life and feel at peace with what happened. It’s not a sad place, its inspirational and it celebrates the terrific contribution that all members of the Armed Forces make throughout their lives.”

In 2017, at the 10th annual RTTW, £150,000 was raised, a new record sum for the event. This increased the total amount donated by RTTW to the Arboretum to more than £790,000.

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 Arboretum by 1.00pm. A service of Remembrance will be held on the Armed Forces Memorial at 2.15pm.

There will be musical entertainment from; The Band of the Parachute Regiment, Sincerely Yours, Gari Glaysher, Abigail Carter-Simpson, and Oliver Moriarty.

There will be a road closure in place on Croxall Road. Members of the public who wish to attend the event will be directed to nearby Catton Hall to use a park and ride service to the Arboretum.

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.”

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.”