Thursday, 27 May 2010

Our moped heroes return safely after their massive adventure

Norfolk Moped Charity Riders supporting Star Throwers Cancer CharityDespite a catalogue of breakdowns, some of the country's steepest slopes and increasingly sore backsides, a group of eight friends have succeeded in their wacky mission to drive the length of the UK on their first 50cc mopeds.

Dozens of welcoming banners and smiling faces were on display as the tired gang rode in formation into the car park of The Boars pub, in Spooner Row, near Wymondham, on Friday evening having riden from John O' Groats in five days. In a challenge dubbed The Wrong Way Down, the bikers, all in their 40s and 50s, dared themselves to travel the 750 mile journey on the bikes they first rode as teenagers.

Each had to scour through collectors' websites, eBay and even scrapyards to find their beloved wheels - some of which were in a state of disrepair. Most could not go beyond speeds of 26mph - a figure cut to single figures as soon as they encountered a hill.

The group raised a massive £4,825 for Wymondham-based charity Star Throwers, which helps people affected by cancer by offering them advice on treatments. Once all the pennies have been counted, James Jones, one of the bikers, said he is confident they will have hit their fundraising target.

He said the adventure had been one of the best experiences of his life. “Everyone was always excited. It was probably the best thing I have ever done excluding going away with my family. It was such an experience - the camaraderie and the bonding was great,” he said. “As soon as we set off and you could see these orange jackets in the distance it was so good. People were waving to us as we were going through villages. We were getting so much attention.”

The group had to cope with about five breakdowns a day, from puncture repairs to engine rebuilds. They managed to fix their bikes on each occasion, except on the first day when the engine on Mr Jones' 1969 Puch MS50 died just 46 miles into the challenge. Luckily, they had brought along a spare bike being carried by a support truck, which also held their clothes and food.

Mr Jones said the generosity of strangers they met on the trip had amazed them. “Some people said we were mad. Most people had admiration for us and and the charity we were doing it for. People's generosity was amazing. You'd be chatting for about 10 minutes and they'd be putting £5 or £10 notes in your hand,” he said. The group would particularly like to thank those businesses that gave them help, including ATS Swaffham which provided and replaced a bike tyre for free, Foulger Transport which fuelled the support truck for free and Banham Poultry, which waived the cost of an MOT and service on the truck.

Despite travelling through some of the country's most glorious countryside, one of the best moments of the journey was the emotional reunion with families and friends back in Spooner Row. “It was mindblowing. All the wives had organised banners. It was like someone coming home from Afghanistan. It was very emotional,” said Mr Jones.

All the bikes will now be reconditioned and repainted ready for the group's next challenge, in which they hope to conquer the length of Ireland.8 Bikers
A massive WELL DONE and THANK YOU from all at Star Throwers to all the riders, support crew, families and everyone who has supported and donated to this amazing adventure.

Those still wishing to donate can visit
Words and picture courtesy of the Eastern Daily Press
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Energy boost for Wymondham charity

edf energy networks supports star throwers charity

Cancer patients visiting a Wymondham charity will soon be able to relax in a little patio paradise thanks to the efforts of EDF Energy Networks.

Sixteen engineers and managers who usually work to upgrade Norfolk's electricity network will be taking two days out to build fences and lay paving slabs at Star Throwers, in Melton Road.

Star Throwers is dedicated to people affected by cancer, offering unbiased advice on the various treatments available. Anthea Turrell, from Star Throwers, said: “The centre has been designed to provide a welcoming and homely atmosphere. It is so important that people find it easy to visit and feel comfortable there. In the garden there are beautiful mature trees and shrubs. Thanks to the generosity of EDF Energy Networks people will be able to set in a peaceful setting, to have a cup of tea and chat with new-found friends and obtain advice.

The challenge is part of EDF Energy's Helping Hands volunteering scheme, which allows employees up to two days of company time a year to support local community projects.

One of the organisers, Chris Mortimer, an EDF Energy Networks field manager, said: “When you have a big team it's surprising how much you can achieve in a just a couple of days. We're hoping to make a real difference to the site so that people who visit in the future will benefit for years to come.”