Five Yorkshire villages are among just 51 villages in the UK that are taking part in a historic charity event to recognise the contribution made by returning soldiers in World War I.
The Thankful Villages Run is a nine-day charity ride, taking place between 27 July and 4 August, to present each community with a slate plaque to commemorate those who were fortunate enough to return home at the end of the Great War in 1918.
On the seventh and eighth days of the big-hearted tour (2 & 3 August), Dougie Bancroft and Medwyn Parry – the motorcyclists who are behind the charity ride – will be visiting the villages of Catwick, Helperthorpe, Norton-le-Clay and Cundall on the seventh day and Scuton on the eighth. Their trip has been made possible by the support of several British businesses, most notably Triumph Motorcycles, which has donated two of its modern, 1215c Trophy tourers to undertake the 2,500 mile journey around Great Britain.
Triumph, the Leicestershire based firm that currently sells more large capacity bikes (over 500cc) than any other brand in the UK, has a special reason to support the Thankful Villages Run as it supplied 30,000 motorcycles (known as ‘Trusty Triumphs’) to the allied forces in WW1.
Because their military heroes returned, the dwellings – nicknamed ‘Thankful Villages’ - have no traditional war memorial and the bravery of their young men on the front line is often forgotten, though many who left to fight were scarred physically and mentally by their ordeal.
As well as recognising the debt paid by the young men who returned from the Great War, the Thankful Villages Run appropriately aims to raise £51,000 in aid of the Royal British Legion.
Starting from mid Wales, Bancroft and Parry will visit every village, where they will present the residents, who include descendants of those who survived the Great War, with a commemorative slate plaque and certificate in remembrance of their contribution. Both Triumph motorcycles feature a bespoke poppy field design to help them stand out on the road during their trip and act as a visual link to the Royal British Legion.
Guy Masters, general manager of Triumph UK, said: “We are proud to be supporting Dougie and Medwyn with their unique project. The Thankful Villages story is one that not many people are aware of, and hopefully this project will do a great deal to help rectify this.
“We owe a huge debt of gratitude not only to those that took part in the First World War, but also to those that have made similar sacrifices in subsequent conflicts. Indeed, many are still doing so today and the Royal British Legion provides invaluable support to UK service personnel past and present. We wish Dougie and Medwyn both all the best in their goal of raising £51,000.”
Dougie Bancroft, from the Thankful Villages Run, said: “Both Medwyn and I have been overwhelmed by the generosity of Triumph and all our other sponsors. We can’t wait to hit the road on the two bikes. The incredible support and assistance Triumph has shown us has enabled us to concentrate on the important job of speaking to the villages to ensure we can raise our target of £51,000 for the Royal British Legion.”
Next year marks 100 years since the start of the ‘war to end all wars’ and the Thankful Villages Run has garnered strong support across the political spectrum as well as being embraced by the local communities of each village, plus the Royal British Legion’s motorcycle clubs.
The journey starts at Llanfihangel y Creuddyn, near Aberystwyth at 8:00am on Saturday 27th July and finishes at the same point at about 7:30pm on Sunday 4th August.
Riders of any bikes are warmly encouraged to join in for any part of the trip, though they would be encouraged to make a minimum donation of £5 per bike per day for the Thankful Villages Run. Further details of the ride, including a complete schedule, are available on the Thankful Villages Run website, www.thankfulvillagesrun.com.
“Joining us is easy – just check out the schedule, arrive with a full tank and remember that it is a ride of respect, rather any kind of race or endurance test,” adds Medwyn Parry, military historian and co-organiser of the Thankful Villages Run.
Full details of the route can be found at: http://www.thankfulvillagesrun.com/schedule.php