Wootton Bassett Bikers Raise over £100,000 for Armed Forces Charity

Wootton Bassett Bikers Raise over £100,000 for Armed Forces Charity – Afghan Heroes

I normally try to stay out of politics on my blog but just this once I want to comment on something happening as I write this: about 15,000 bikers are riding through Wootton Bassett in support of British Armed Forces.  This ride is for fund raising purposes and is expected to raise at least £100,000 for charity in support of British troops (Afghan Heroes).

It is a really refreshing change to see two things on British television.

  • A positive attitude toward supporting our military
  • Reasonable and relatively unbiased coverage of bikers

BBC article on the Wootton Bassett Bikers:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/wiltshire/8566626.stm

Media Coverage of the Military

In Britain the military has often been portrayed in a negative light. This sad situation is a direct responsibility of the writers of the dramas that portray them like this and the journalists that seek to spin events in a negative light.  As I am an aspiring writer myself, I feel duty bound to speak out on this.

The media has historically seemed unable to determine a difference between supporting our armed forces and supporting the conflict they are engaged in.  There have been many conflicts that the British military have been engaged in during my lifetime that I do not personally agree with but I can see that the military does the will of parliament under authority of the Crown.

As Britain is a democracy, if we do not like the wars that our armed forces are engaged in then we need to criticise the government that caused them to be so engaged and not the lads and lasses that risk their lives in service of our country.

Supporting the armed forces is not the same thing as supporting idiocy in foreign policy.

Bikers in the media

Again, writers and the media in general seems only too happy to break out age old stereotypes when it comes to discussing anyone that uses two wheels and a motor for transport.

Here is a news flash for those lazy writers:  “Easy Rider” was released over three decades ago, get over it and look at what is happening TODAY!

Portraying anyone who rides a motorbike as an undesirable is absurd these days.  We are told of the dangers of global warming and bikes have a far smaller carbon footprint than cars.  How often is this mentioned in the media?

I live in an area where every Easter the local bikers would organise a run to our local hospital and bring eggs for the kids on the wards there.  This was so successful that in the end there were too many eggs and so it turned into a charity run, for cash not eggs.  This charity run continued to grow until the council pulled the plug on the run when the police said it was costing too much to police the route and the council would not pay.  The fact that it was raising tens of thousands of pounds for children’s charities did not seem be a factor in that decision.

A More Sensible Attitude Prevails

I do not know what happened in the media to actually start covering the parades that spontaneously occurred in Wootton Bassett when our war dead were flown home, but I welcome the change.  Those that decry the military would often be the first to demand protection if the country was invaded.  The recent coverage was such a pleasant change of tone by the BBC I felt I had to comment.

I can even forgive the BBC television reporter that commented that nobody was objecting to the smell of diesel after the bikes had passed.  Poor boy, he didn’t even know that bike’s don’t run on diesel…

Dave Felton

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3 Responses to Wootton Bassett Bikers Raise over £100,000 for Armed Forces Charity

  1. Janet_West says:

    This is a lovely-to-read, well-considered article that I discovered by following a link on Twitter. Thank you.

    I live in Wootton Bassett, and I thought that, as I’m writing, I’d fill the gap in your knowledge as to how the media discovered ‘us’.

    After about a year of repatriations during which we thought the town’s activities went unnoticed by anyone, we were surprised to hear that the armed forces themselves were deeply touched by the town’s simple tribute. On 12th October 2008 they organised a full, joint armed forces military band parade through Wootton Bassett High Street as a tribute (you can see the event on YouTube). The media turned up for the first time in force, and have been doing so ever since. One positive result is that extended family and friends of those KIA, who did not have access to the repatriation service at RAF Lyneham, have somewhere they can go to be in touch with the dreadful event they have to come to terms with. The townsfolk now take a step back from the roadside; the event now belongs so much more to the bereaved.

  2. Dave says:

    Janet,

    Thank you very much for your comment. I always wondered how the whole thing started and thanks to you and twitter now I know. 🙂

    It is my intention to come to Wootton Bassett at some point this year, although I don’t know when as I am still having some health issues.

    I have several friends in the armed services, or recently retired. From them and others I learned of the absurd lack of equipment our troops had, long before the story broke in the media. It is testament to the spirit of these people that they didn’t moan, but merely went to the shops to buy desert camo gear and even bullet proofs in one instance. The standard of equipment some units were supplied with was a very unfunny joke. Afghanistan wasn’t much better organised by many accounts.

    Despite these unnecessary hindrances our troops go and try and do the best job they can and then some desk jockey in London decides to slate the Army, or the armed forces generally. It makes my blood boil. If certain journalists were as quick to find out the facts and expose what was really going on then maybe more lives would have been saved.

    I really wish that people could separate criticising foreign policy from criticising the people whose job it is to try and carry those policies out.

    Best wishes to you and all your townsfolk.

    Dave

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