Bikers are revving up to give air ambulance charity a lift

Organiser Paul Long on the bike, with from left, wife Angie, and Shaun Clark and Sharon Ryan who will be manning checkpoints. Picture: OX67012 Jon Lewis

Organiser Paul Long on the bike, with from left, wife Angie, and Shaun Clark and Sharon Ryan who will be manning checkpoints. Picture: OX67012 Jon Lewis Buy this photo

First published in News The Oxford Times: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter covering Blackbird Leys and Greater Leys. Call me on 01865 425403

HUNDREDS of bikers will be roaring through Oxfordshire next weekend to raise money for a different mode of transport – the county’s air ambulance.

Nearly 200 motorbike enthusiasts will rev up for the Ride the County event.

They will move between four checkpoints across Oxfordshire to raise money for the Thames Valley and Chiltern Air Ambulance.

Organiser Paul Long, from Witney, said: “Traditionally, air ambulances are bikers’ favourite charity.

“Because you’re often on windy roads in rural areas, and if you’re unfortunate enough to have an accident you may well become a customer of the air ambulance.

“The idea is if you support it you’ll never need it.

“There are going to be checkpoints in Banbury, Thame, Burford and Didcot.

“Riders can start wherever is convenient for them, and they can work out their own routes. So long as they make it around the four checkpoints they can do what they like.”

Bikers have to make a minimum donation of £10 to join the ride, and after completing the course can go to biker meeting point H-Cafe near Berinsfield for a raffle.

Mr Long, a distribution manager, said: “We have got almost 100 people signed up so far, and our initial target was 50.

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“We’ll easily surpass 200 people on the day. We’ve had a lot of interest and so many people sign up at the last minute.

“We currently have riders coming from Birmingham, London and the West Country as well as local entrants.”

The 50-year-old added: “We’ve currently raised £1,500, but we want to get together £2,500 which would pay for one air ambulance flight.”

The helicopter, affectionately know as BOB because it serves Berkshire, Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire, is funded entirely by donations.

The ambulance’s fundraising manager Tiffany Sadler said: “It’s always amazing that people want to put on events of this scale to support us.

“Bikers describe us as a guardian angel, because so many of the community have used our vital services.”

Biker Craig Course was saved by the air ambulance after he was hit by a car in February 2012 and taken to the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford. His leg had been crushed, he had a bleed in his brain and he lost more than four pints of blood.

The Milton Keynes resident said: “Being airlifted to the John Radcliffe Hospital is the key reason that I still have my leg.

“Milton Keynes Hospital didn’t really have the speciality to deal with my injuries, but the surgeon at the John Radcliffe did.

“I do sometimes think about what would have happened if the air ambulance wasn’t there.”

The Ride the County event is on Saturday, May 17. Checkpoints open at 9am and close between 3pm and 4pm, with the H-Cafe raffle taking place at 4.30pm.

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