The Solstice Challenge was our biggest fundraising event so far.
A group of volunteers and fundraisers travelled to the glorious Welsh seaside town of Aberystwyth on Saturday 23rd June. After seeing the sun drop beyond the horizon of the Irish Sea, they made the 300 mile journey across country to Great Yarmouth in Norfolk, all to raise much needed funds for Derbyshire Blood Bikes. Some 12 motorcycles and 2 cars made the journey, around half the participants being current Blood Bike volunteers.
Many of the group were all well accomplished and experienced motorcyclists, but few had experienced a full overnight ride. Though blessed with clear and dry conditions, the ride to the start, significant temperature drop from the daytime, coupled with the inevitable fatigue, meant that by the finish on the east coast, some had ridden over 450 miles in little more than 12 hours. It was, in all senses, a true challenge. The group were grateful to the local Freemasons group for opening their very grand lodge to provide refreshment and the chance for a few hours sleep before returning home on Sunday morning.
Of course the aim was to raise funds through participation. The commission-free portal BT.MyDonate has served Derbyshire Blood Bikes very well over the years, and so it was with our individual participants establishing their own fundraising pages under the Solstice Challenge banner. Most fundraising takes place on the lead-up to the event and by Sunday 24th June, the target had been exceeded with over £5000 raised. Part of the event was the ‘Ride on Jamie’ appeal. Jamie Henshaw was one of our fundraisers from Ilkeston, Derbyshire and he sadly lost his battle with cancer in April. His family have pledged to continue fundraising to support a new Derbyshire Blood Bike to carry his name, and raised around £2,500 towards their campaign.
It was an incredible experience of friendship and camaraderie, joining the passions of two-wheels and our voluntary service, and one that many have expressed a sincere wish to repeat.
Particular thanks to Andy Ramsden for organising the event and our volunteer helpers, Louise and Ellie Ramsden and Sue Vallis for supporting the start, Murray Dall and Marissa Smith for support at the half-way check point and Dave Harvey for his help at the finish.
Finally, a word about the national Blood Bike family. The UK and Ireland now has almost complete coverage by independent blood bike charities. We often work in very different ways, serving the needs of our local NHS Trusts, but we all have some things in common. The love of motorcycles and charity work.
Our Solstice Challenge event was greatly enhanced by Blood Bikes Wales and SERV Norfolk, who turned out at start and finish to see us safely out of Aberystwyth and into Great Yarmouth. Thank you sincerely for your support.