Here is a fabulous article, written by our President, Paul Moore, for the Airborne Engineers Journal. It gives a detailed account of this year’s Ride of Respect, from the viewpoint of the riders. Enjoy !!
Airborne Forces Riders
South Atlantic Medal Association 2020 Ride of Respect
01-08 August 2020
Maj (Retd) Paul Moore (9 Para Sqn RE attached to 3 Para in 1982)
Some of you reading this will recall that last year’s ride was inspired by Jimmy O’Connell (3 Para) who had details of all the 3 Para graves from the impressive research he did when writing his fantastic account of the Battle for Mount Longdon ‘Three Days in June’. Jim called me one day and asked if I lived anywhere near Lanchester in County Durham. I drive through that village almost every day and Jim told me that one of the 3 Para lads rests there – Stewart Laing – so I set off to find the grave. Since then I have made it my task to honour Stewart every year on 12 June on behalf of all 3 Para and attached arms, the same as I do in Edinburgh at the grave of my section commander in 9 Sqn and good friend – Scotty Wilson.
This revelation shocked me as I realised that if I did not know where one of my mates was buried, there must be others out there. There started the research into where all of the Falklands gravesites are located and following the success of the 2019 Ride of Respect where we visited all of the 3 Para gravesites, this year we planned to include all of the other Falklands war graves and memorials in the UK as far as possible. Right from the start we knew this ride was going to be much harder than last year. Planning the ride took over 8 months and included a route planning distance of around 2400 miles, over 40 graves to visit and a dozen or so Falklands memorials, not to mention arranging accommodation, ferries, fuel, and fundraising – all complicated by a little thing called Covid19.
We found that the minimum time we could fit the ride in was over 8 days. Originally it was planned for early July but due to the situation we postponed the ride until early August. As it happens this was a good decision but in conducting the ride, we found that it was not all plain sailing. The full program and sheer tempo of the ride meant that we got very tired and there were mistakes made along the way, but we also learned a few things and met some wonderful people. In order to keep costs down we asked for help from our wider Airborne and Corps family and the offers of beds, meals, brews and beers were outstanding. Our program did not allow us to visit all but to those who did offer assistance we are very grateful.
This year the team consisted of Charlie McColgan (9 Sqn), Tony McKie (1 Para), Phil Damant (RAF) and myself, and later Iain Omerod (264 SAS Sig Sqn). So is this just about the gravesites? Most certainly not. Our ride is conducted for the following reasons:
Remembrance – to demonstrate that the fallen are not forgotten.
Respect – for their families, the pain of their loss of a son, husband, or brother continues.
Awareness – to let people know where our fallen lie so that they may give due respect.
Support – by fundraising for SAMA82 whose support gives comfort to veterans and families.
To give you some idea of the itinerary and diary:
Day 1 – Sat 01 Aug 20
0700 Hrs – Depart
0745 Hrs – Whitley Bay, Hesleyside Road, NE25 9HB – Memorial, – Captain Chris Dent 2 Para
1100 Hrs – Mortonhall Cemetery, Edinburgh, EH16 6TX – DSgt Daniel Wright 2 Scots Gds
1245 Hrs – Kennoway Cemetery, KY8 5LN – Captain David Wood, 2 Para
1500 Hrs – Western Cemetery, Arbroath, DD11 3RA – Cpl Peter Fitton 45 Cdo, Cpl Ian Spencer 45 Cdo, Cpl Laurence Watts 42 Cdo, Mne Paul Callan 45 Cdo.
1545 Hrs – Visit Falklands Memorial Garden, 45 Commando, RM Condor. DD113SP
1700 Hrs – Laurencekirk Cemetery, AB30 1HF – LSgt Clark Mitchell 2 Scots Gds
1915 Hrs – Macduff Myrus Cemetery, AB44 1 PQ – Cpl Peter McKay 45 Cdo.
Day total – 399 miles
Overnight – Kinloss Barracks, IV36 3UH
Diary Notes: What an epic day ! We were met by around 20 bikers at Whitley Bay from the Widows Sons and Eights and Aces plus others who escorted us all the way to Edinburgh. There we were met by Invictus MC who also escorted us all the way to Arbroath in a very professional manner. This helped us to stay on time. We were blown away by the support of bikers, veterans and the public who turned up at cemeteries along the way. It was lovely to meet Shenia the wife of DSgt Danny Wight in Edinburgh. We could barely get our bikes into Kennoway Cemetery and then had trouble getting out again due to the number of supporters there. The support shown has been fantastic, not just by bikers but many members of the public too. Mick Walker of Airborne Engineers Scotland was there to support us and good to see Mick looking so well it was.
The visit to 45 Cdo Memorial Garden in Arbroath was a detail we only added in at late notice thanks to Fiona – Jenny Wren – of the Royal Naval Association Riders – but well worthwhile as it is a memorial to all 45 Cdo personnel lost on operations since the 1970’s, including the Falklands. The RN Riders escorted us the rest of the way to Kinloss. At Laurencekirk we were honoured to meet Theresa the wife of LSgt Clark Mitchell. She made a very moving speech telling us about Clark, and how he was taken so young shortly after their marriage, but how our ride has given her pride and lifted her spirits. This helps us to know we are doing the right thing. After a brief visit to Macduff to pay respects to Peter McKay 45 Cdo, we made our way to 39 Engineer Regiment for an overnighter in Kinloss Barracks and a well earned beer ! Many thanks to Lt Col (QM) Gus Thompson RE and Cpl ‘Griff’ Griffiths for your hospitality. Very much appreciated.
Day 2 – Sun 02 Aug 20
0700 Hrs – Depart
0900 Hrs – Spean Bridge Commando Memorial, PH34 4EE
1130 Hrs – Penny Fuir Cemetery, Oban, P34 4QA – Mne Gordon MacPherson 45 Cdo
1400 Hrs – North Dalnotter Cemetery, G81 4SL – Sgt John Simeon 2 Scots Gds
1500 Hrs – Cardonald Cemetery, G52 1SB – Gdsm Archibald Stirling 2 Scots Gds
1600 Hrs – Sandymount Cemetery, G32 0HW – Gdsm Derek Denholm 2 Scots Gds
1700 Hrs – West Cemetery, Hamilton, ML3 9BY – Cpl David Hardman 2 Para
1845 Hrs – Knadgerhill Cemetery, Irvine, KA12 0YE – Gdsm James Reynolds & Gdsm David Malcolmson 2 Scots Gds
Day total – 295 miles
Overnight – Premier Inn, Prestwick, KA9 2RJ
Diary Notes: This day was just a blur. It started with a stunning early morning ride down the north shore of Loch Ness to Spean Bridge Commando Memorial. There was no way on this earth would we ever ride past this and miss out honouring our Royal Marine and Commando Brothers. Departing at 0700 hrs meant there was very little traffic on the road and the ride down the loch was just breath taking. The Royal Marines Association did us proud by providing a Standard Bearer and Charlie laid a wreath in honour of those brave men. Following this we headed down to Oban to pay our respects to another Royal, then on leaving Oban – travelling back on the same road we rode in on – disaster struck ! Tony lost control of his bike on the wet road and struck the rear of a parked car, writing off his bike and the car but luckily, with cat-like agility (or sheer paratrooper instinct) he went over the roof of the car and landed in the bushes at the side of the road ! He had a few bruises and he burbled like a shell-shocked budgie for a bit but thankfully otherwise fine. A lucky lad. Assuming this was game over for him in good paratrooper style we stripped Tony of any essential equipment, made sure he had food and water and carried on with our mission, leaving him to sort out recovery back to Durham. We had a very memorable service at Irvine where two Scots Guardsmen are buried together. The story here is that Gdsm Jim Reynolds was an orphan and there were no family to claim him therefore he was buried alongside his good pal Gdsm David Malcolmson. We also met the brother of David Malcolmson who gave us a very significant bottle of whisky to auction for SAMA. We later found out that it may be worth over £5000. Safely parked up for the day we reflected on the day’s events, what led to the accident and what we must do to ensure it does’nt happen again. We also called Tony to see how he was, (to take the mick) only to find that he intended to buy another bike the next day and will catch us up later……..yeah, right ya 1 Para loony!
Day 3 – Mon 03 Aug 20
0700 Hrs – Depart
1030 Hrs – Cairnryan DG9 8RG – Larne BT40 1AX
1615 Hrs – Blaris Cemetery, Lisburn, BT27 5RA – LCpl Tony Cork 2 Para
1715 Hrs – Palace Barracks Memorial Garden, BT18 9RA
1900 Hrs – Stena Line Ferry Terminal, Belfast, BT3 9JL
Day Total – 111.5 miles
Overnight – On ship
Diary Notes: A nice little early morning ride down to Cairnryan after a bit of breakfast. A luxury. A pleasant two hours on the boat and we were met by my old mucker Moore Campbell and around 30 guys and gals from the NI branch of the RBL Riders. We had a bit of time for a little ride out along the beautiful North Antrim coast to Glenarm for a burger on the sea front and a nice ride down to Lisburn to pay our respects to Tony Cork of 2 Para. We were once again amazed at the number of people who turned out to meet us and join with us in paying respect. We were especially grateful to meet Tony’s son and daughter. Riding with us was former Royal Marine Padre Andrew Rawding who assisted us by conducting a short and simple service of remembrance which everyone appreciated. We were then escorted up to Palace Barracks in Belfast to visit the Memorial Garden. Albert Owens MBE (1 Para) gave us the guided tour completely from memory. It was fantastic. We also paid our respects to all those who lost their lives on Op Banner. While this slightly detracted from our Falklands theme, we felt it was appropriate due to our current location, all of us having served on Op Banner and the fact that Albert is so passionate that their sacrifice should never be forgotten. Padre Andy once again did his bit, his strong voice booming out in the relative silence of the Memorial Garden. I don’t mind admitting that this was an emotional service. We had all lost mates over there and elsewhere, and the thought that we had almost lost another just the day before was not far from our mind.
Day 4 – Tue 04 Aug 20
0830 Hrs – Depart
0900 Hrs – Kirkdale Cemetery, Aintree, L9 9EN – Gdsm Ronald Tanbini 2 Scots Gds
1100 Hrs – Stockport Cemetery, SK2 6LS – Pte Mark Fletcher MID 2 Para
1300 Hrs – Welsh Guards Memorial, Wrexham Town Hall, LL11 1ZA
1630 Hrs – SAS Memorial, St Martins Church, Ross Rd, Hereford. HR2 7RJ
1700 Hrs – Move to Ross on Wye HR9 5QQ – Tea Break with Jean Jenkins
1730-1830 Hrs – Tea Break
1900 Hrs Yew Tree Brake Cemetery, Cinderford, GL14 3 HU – Spr Chris Jones 59 Cdo Sqn RE
2015 Hrs – BP Garage, Newport Rd, Chepstow, NP16 5YS – RV with Patriots MC
Day total – 242 miles
Overnight – Patriots MC South Wales, NP11 4PT
Diary Notes: As we got off the ferry in Liverpool it was raining but we had time for a quick trip to Macdonalds to keep the fires burning. It was a pleasure to meet Danielle the daughter of Ronald Tanbini and his baby grandson at the cemetery where his grave had been carefully tidied up by two lads from the Scots Guards only a couple of days before our visit. On arrival in Wrexham we had quite a following, probably around 20 bikes. We found the Welsh Guards Memorial easy enough and met two ex-Welsh Guards guys there who had only found out about the visit the night before. We paid our respects to all those lost on the RFA Sir Galahad, including two of our own Andy MacIllvenny and Wayne Tarbard. However, soon we were on our way to Hereford where the SAS Association met us and Gordon Mather MM – former SAMA Chairman – gave a guided tour of the SAS Memorial plot and we were allowed into the church to view the stunning stained glass window dedicated to the SAS Regiment. At this point we were also joined by ex-264 SAS Sig Sqn rider Iain Ormerod in Hereford for the rest of the trip replacing Tony McKie.
Our next visit was to see the lovely Jean Jenkins. We had met Jean last year on the 3 Para ride, we kept in touch and she is a great follower of the Airborne Forces Riders. Sadly, Jean is not too well at the moment, but we had a nice hour nattering while she filled us with tea and sandwiches, and hugs all round because ‘little bugs’ were not going to stop Jean hugging her boys ! It was already a long day by the time we met up with our old mucker Denzil Connick (3 Para) and The Patriots in Chepstow and we were certainly glad to get off the bikes into the Patriots Clubhouse for a well-earned beer and some much needed down time. The Patriots looked after us extremely well and before we knew it, from our sleeping bags we could hear Patriot Mitch rustling up a full cooked breakfast for us. Top bloke ! We knew that Day 5 was going to be a long motorway day but we were looking forward to being met by some Royal Marine Riders who would escort us from Taunton down to Plymouth.
Day 5 – Wed 05 Aug 20
0900 Hrs – Depart
0930 Hrs Courtesy Call – SAMA82 Office, Pontypool, NP40LS
1330 Hrs Buckland Monochorum Cemetery, Yelverton, Devon, PL207NA – Cpl Jeremy Smith RM
1430 Hrs Weston Mill Cemetery, Plymouth, PL2 2EP – Cpl Mick Melia 59 Cdo Sqn RE
1530 Hrs – Drake Cemetery, Plymouth, PL7 1UQ – Sgt Roger Enefer RM
1830 Hrs – Cenotaph, Blandford Forum, DT11 9AZ – LC Adrian Wellstead RN
1930 Hrs – St Michaels Church, Hamworthy, Poole, BH15 4HR Sgt Nicholas Hunt RM SBS
Day total – 296 miles
Overnight – Nichols Family – Poole. BH12 5AD
Diary Notes: We made the obligatory courtesy call to the SAMA office in Pontypool mainly because the lovely Joanne Stephens spoils us rotten with brews, biscuits and sarnies, but also as we had to offload our very valuable whisky cargo and around £1400 in cash we had been given in donations so far. We certainly were getting nervous about carrying that lot !. It was a long day on mostly motorway or fast A roads but we were well escorted by a group of Royal Marine Riders who we met at Taunton Services. These guys knew where they were going which saved us a load of time. It was raining lightly as we got to Plymouth but we knew it would get worse. And it did ! It was great to see so many friends from 59 Cdo Sqn RE at Mick Melia’s grave and especially Micks wife Gill and partner Frank – also ex RM. By now it was lashing down, we were tired and soaking wet and traffic was heavy so the recipe was just right for another accident to happen so we opted to miss out one serial in order to have a 30 minute break for a brew before moving on. We felt bad about missing out visiting the memorial to LC Adrian Wellstead of HMS Sheffield, but it was always the case that if we were behind time or needed time for some reason then we might have to miss out a serial. Knowing that it was a memorial as opposed to a grave, we had to miss this one out but we also knew that Adrian would be remembered at the Royal Navy memorial in Portsmouth the following day.
After a short visit to Hamworthy to pay respect to Sgt Kiwi Hunt SBS we were relieved to arrive at Colonels Cottage and the Nichols family residence for our overnight stop. Johnny (ex 9 Para sqn RE) and Denise laid on some excellent food, the rain had now stopped and we had a very pleasant evening yarning about old times and blowing the froth off a couple…..but then we had an arrival ! Tony McKie – he of the earlier crashed bike fame – had ridden his replacement bike which he had bought the previous day down from Durham to Poole to re-join us. Now we were five and we unanimously voted Tony McKie the Airborne Riders ‘Man of the Match’ for such a fine display of Airborne initiative and spirit !
Day 6 – Thu 06 Aug 20
0900 Hrs – Depart
1030 Hrs – Courtesy Call – Forgotten Veterans UK, PO4 9LD – Fort Cumberland
1140 Hrs – RM Museum Southsea PO4 9PX ‘ The Yomper’
1220 Hrs – Royal Navy Falklands Memorial, 18 Gun Battery, Old Portsmouth, PO1 2JE
1400 Hrs – Tidworth Military Cemetery, SP9 7JR – Maj Roger Nutbeem RAMC
1530 Hrs – St Peters Church, Frimley Green, GU16 7AQ – LCpl Simon Cockton AAC
1630 Hrs – Aldershot Military Cemetery, GU11 2DD
Lt Jim Barry RSigs
CSgt Gordon Findlay 2 Para
Cpl Steve Prior 2 Para
Cpl Paul Sullivan 2 Para
LCpl Gary Bingley MM 2 Para
LCpl Nigel Smith 2 Para
LCpl Badharparsad Limbu 1/7 Gurkha Rifles
Pte Steve Illingsworth DCM 2 Para
Pte Tommy Mechan 2 Para
and others from Airborne Forces.
Day total – 171.5 miles
Overnight – Premier Inn, Aldershot, GU11 1SQ
Diary Notes: There were a few sore heads this morning but the cracking bacon butties and a brew sorted us out for a cracking ride up to Portsmouth in busy traffic picking up riders on the way. As we entered Fort Cumberland there were already some Airborne Forces Riders there to meet us and we were given a fine welcome and photo shoot by the staff of Forgotten Veterans UK. We were met by my old mucker and former Sapper Gary Weaving who has been instrumental in helping veterans in the Portsmouth area as well as further afield, and Gary gave us a briefing on how they support veterans from Fort Cumberland. Great work Gary and the team! Leaving the Fort we must have had around 35 bikes and to our surprise there were more waiting outside the fort and at the Yomper to meet us. Here I made a slight navigation error which took us into a private estate dead end much to everyone’s amusement…….but not the neighbours !
Love it or hate it ‘The Yomper’ is an iconic image from the Falklands war, and while in Portsmouth it would be remiss of us not to pay our respects there or to miss the opportunity for a photograph. SAMA Chairman Tom Herring also spoke about what we were doing and outlined plans for the 40th anniversary of the Falklands war in 2022. We were guided around to 18 Gun Battery and the Royal Navy Falklands memorial by a local rider (I’m not daft enough to get lost twice in a row !) where I was concerned that not only were we early but there were by now around 50 bikes to park up without causing any problems. We made our act of remembrance there, assisted by several standard bearers and veterans from all over the Portsmouth area. It was very moving especially as one lady spectator introduced herself to us as coming from the Falklands and after throwing a couple of names about we found we have several mutual friends in Stanley. By the time we got to Tidworth there must have been around 70 bikes in the convoy and I was starting to get a little worried about the size of the traffic tail…..however, all I had to worry about really was the five of us and being on time. It was hard to tell how many people were at Tidworth cemetery but it must have been around 150. We arrived at Aldershot military cemetery a little early which was just as well. We could not believe how many people were there to join us in our act of remembrance. On some previous occasions we have had buglers turn up to play, but in Aldershot we had Falklands veteran and our old friend John Ferry (9 Para Sqn) who played a lament after our act of remembrance. This was a nice touch and I think appreciated by the many people there. This was on one of the hottest days of the year and by the time all of this was over we were ready to get showered and a beer. A nice surprise awaited me at the hotel as my daughter and grand daughter had came over from Basingstoke to surprise me. We had a really nice evening in the Trafalgar in Aldershot courtesy of Richard Stacy (1 Para) and the Traff now has a nice new 2020 Ride of Respect plaque on its wall as a small show of respect and thanks from us.
Day 7 – Fri 07 Aug 20
0800 Hrs – Depart
0845 Hrs – Brookwood Military Cemetery, GU24 0JB – LCpl Christopher Thomas 1WG
1045 Hrs – Holy Trinity Church, Twydall, Chatham, ME8 6JU – Memorial – Cpl Andy McIllvenney
4 Tp 9 Para Sqn RE
1230 Hrs – All Saints Church Basildon, SS16 4PX – Pte Stephen Dixon 2 Para
1430 Hrs – Courtesy Call (1 Hr) – PRA HQ & Pegasus Magazine, Merville Barracks,
Colchester, CO2 7UT
1730 Hrs – St Michaels Church, Oulton Broad, NR32 3JP – Pte Dave Parr 2 Para
Day Total – 266 miles
Overnight – Bickel Family, Attleborough, NR172RL
Diary Notes: It was an early start from Aldershot much to the annoyance of the team (who all had headaches!) but we had an extra serial to go to at Brookwood cemetery near Pirbright, – that of LCpl Chris Thomas 1 Welsh Guards who was one of the last soldiers to be killed in the war. By now this being our seventh day on the road we were feeling a bit tired and mistakes were starting to be made…..and I’m not just talking about my navigation ! The route to Chatham was fairly straight forward but one missed GPS turning point and we ended up taking the back streets up the hill and through Gillingham to get to Twydal church and the memorial stone to Cpl Andy McIllvenney. We were met by my old mucker from 9 Sqn days Tim van der Kraan who had secured access to parking and the church itself, which was very much appreciated, as was the reception by many mates of mine and Charlie’s from days gone by. Heading up the M20 towards the Dartford Tunnel, the traffic started to increase and Chris Rea was playing ‘Road to Hell’ on my Ipod……..very apt. We had to filter through the traffic approaching the tunnel. Drivers were mostly kind to us and allowed us through – filtering is NOT illegal – and knowing that one of the bikes was limited in range – yes it was a Harley – we pulled into Thurrock services for fuel.
We quickly set off again and I got onto the motorway slip road when my bike (a GL1800 Goldwing) lost all power and blew out a great cloud of white smoke. For some bizarre reason I thought the clutch had gone but the evidence was there and a quick check of the fuel receipt confirmed it. I had put diesel into the bike by mistake ! I was in disbelief that I could have done such a thing but such is tiredness and getting distracted at the pumps. No excuses. It happens. In true paratrooper style I was stripped of all my ‘must-go’ gear and off they went (making a ‘hurry up’ waving sign to me as they went !) to continue the mission, leaving me by the side of the road to try to get the bike sorted. It was hot – nearly 30C and the motorway slip road on the M25 is a dangerous place to breakdown, but luckily help came within about an hour and I was taken to Tilbury dock where the bike was de-fuelled, tested and refuelled all by around 1700 hrs.
I thought the M25 at teatime on a Friday was going to be a nightmare but it was not too bad as I made my way direct to Attleborough in Norfolk, our final RV for the day and the home of my good mate Dave Bickel RE and his lovely wife Gill. In the meanwhile, the remainder had been to show respect at graves in Basildon, Colchester, and Oulton Broad where they were met by the Norfolk Harley Owners group who escorted them all the way to Attleborough and their bike night at a bar called Route 11. That’s where me and Dave found them. Sipping non-alcohol beers and enjoying the hospitality of the HOG guys. I quickly lost count of the number of ‘Diesel’ jokes that came my way……’Would you like a diesel…err I mean a drink?’ A very enjoyable night followed at big Dave’s place, accompanied by Dave’s son Joe who is in 2 Para, and another mate Craig ex 3 Para. Dave produced an enormous BBQ, the beer and banter flowed, and many toasts were made. We even made a few from Charlie’s desert boot. The Port went down well, but when the whisky started to flow it was game over for me and the events of the day caught up. It had been a long, hot day. Not one of my better ones, but at least we were all safe.
Day 8 – Sat 08 Aug 20
1000 Hrs – Depart
1330 Hrs – St Mary’s Church, Marston on Dove, Derby, DE65 5GB – Spr Wayne Tarbard 4 Tp 9 Para Sqn RE
1430 Hrs – St Mary’s Church Cemetery, Boulton Lane, Alveston, Derby, DE24 0GE – Mne Michael Nowak 45 Cdo
1630 Hrs – Eckington War Memorial, S21 4BH – LCpl John Pashley 9 Para Sqn RE
1930 Hrs – All Saints Church, Hutton Rudby, TS15 0EY – Sir Rex Hunt CMG
Day total – 307 miles
Ride total – 2267.5 miles
Diary Notes: We could afford a bit of a late start on our last day which was good because we needed it ! We had received a lot of messages from friends and strangers who wanted to ride with us on our last day, and one guy even rode from Leeds to Attleborough this morning just to join us for the final day ! Good effort. He was rewarded with a mug of tea and one of Big Dave’s sausage sarnies before we set off down the A14, picking up more and more riders as we went on our way to Marston on Dove in Derbyshire. We were met there by more bikers and the Derby and Leicester Branches of the Parachute Regiment Association who both kindly presented cheques to SAMA in recognition of our ride. We were also met by Wayne Tarbard’s sister and niece who told us that it gave the family some comfort that by doing our ride they know Wayne and the others are not forgotten.
We were really pleased to be able to honour Mne Mike (Blue) Nowak as his grave had been very hard to trace. However, someone who knew Blue back in 82 had contacted us during the ride to correct the location we had published, this got us to the correct place and we were able to honour him too. That made my day. By the time we got to Eckington memorial the Standards of the PRA and REA were flying. This was the penultimate location on the ride and a memorial to our old mate John Pashley (9 Para Sqn RE) who was killed on Tumbledown. It was great that so many turned out to join us in remembering Pash, but especially good that a local landscaper had renovated the area around the memorial with proper paving free of charge the week before we arrived. Thank you whoever that was.
Very aware that we were now on the final leg, it was a busy Saturday evening on the roads and we were all tired we set off for Hutton Rudby in North Yorkshire and the grave of Sir Rex Hunt – The Governor of the Falklands in 1982 and our final act of remembrance on this ride. The church is situated in a dip in the village and on a bend in the road so we did not know how many people were there until we rounded the corner ! The place was mobbed ! It seemed like the whole of Teesside PRA had turned out en-masse and even brought the beer and the buffet too ! Priorities first though and we paid our respects to Sir Rex in exactly the same way as we had with all of the other graves we visited. I read out the obituary published in the Guardian when he died and many people remarked afterwards that he was a truly remarkable man, an RAF Spitfire pilot at the end of WW2, Diplomat in the British Embassy at the fall of Saigon and a real no-nonsense character. A bit old school if you like but certainly the right man at the right time in the Falklands in 1982. A short time later we were all home, beer in hand and able to reflect on the week.
Was it worth it? Certainly. Even if just one relative gets some comfort by knowing that we don’t forget their loved ones then it is worth it, but on this trip we were thanked many times by relatives for doing just that.
Did we achieve the aim? Certainly. We made over 50 separate acts of REMEMBRANCE and demonstrated our RESPECT to the fallen and their families. We brought about AWARENESS of where the graves and memorials are and we hope others will visit them in the future, and everyone contributed to SUPPORT the South Atlantic Medal Association by helping us to raise over £7400 – some 300% over our original target.
Will we do it again? Certainly. We are already planning next year’s ride where we will put the rides of 2019 and 2020 together making one big ride, but we will be doing it over a period of two weeks. The dates of the 2021 SAMA Ride of Respect are: Sat 31 July to Sunday 15 August 2021.
Thank you all for your support.
Paul Moore, Charlie McColgan, Tony McKie, Phil Damant, Iain Omerod