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Thousands of bikers expected to join 2018 Ride to the Wall event at the National Memorial Arboretum

More than 7,000 bikers are expected to get in the saddle and head for the National Memorial Arboretum for the 2018 Ride to the Wall.

The event takes place on 6th October and sees riders from across the country and overseas travelling to Alrewas to pay their respects to fallen servicemen and women.

Among this year’s motorcyclists are Rob and Mandy-Sartorius Jones who lost their son Ian after he died while on operations with the Royal Corps of Signals in Afghanistan in 2012.

Rob and Mandy-Sartorius Jones

Rob and Mandy-Sartorius Jones

Rob, a former RAF fireman, said his son’s death had made him ensure he had no regrets in his own life – and he learned to ride a motorbike.

He said passing his test and discovering the Ride to the Wall “family” had helped him and his wife come to terms with the loss of Ian.

“Ride to the Wall and the National Memorial Arboretum have introduced us to people who have faced similar circumstances,” he said. “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 Ride to the Wall raised a record £150,000, bringing the total to more than £790,000.

Riders will leave one of 11 designated start points at 8.30am on 6th October to arrive at the arboretum by 1pm ahead of a service of remembrance on the Armed Forces Memorial at 2.15pm.

The day will alos feature music from The Band of the Parachute Regiment, Sincerely Yours, Gari Glaysher, Abigail Carter-Simpson, and Oliver Moriarty.

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.”

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