Blessing for fundraising bikers

Bikers from the North East received a blessing in celebration of their amazing fundraising efforts.

Medwyn Parry and Dougie Bancroft are members of the Triumph Motorcycle club. They received the blessing from the Reverend Canon David Glover, Rector of Holy Trinity Church Washington and Chaplain to the Royal British Legion Washington branch.

More than 50 of their biker friends turned out for the blessing during their quest to visit each of the 51 "Thankful Villages".

The Thankful Villages are those that were lucky enough to escape without a single fallen resident during World War One, although many of those who returned were physically or emotionally scarred.

Fourteen of the villages are "Double Thankful" because all of the residents who left to fight in the Second World War returned.

The blessing ceremony was held in front of the landmark Angel of the North statue.

The challenge started on 27 July and saw Parry and Bancroft travel some 2,500 miles in nine days.

They aimed to raise £51,000, with the money going to the Royal British Legion. If they surpass their target, the remainder will be divided between the Royal British Legion, the Fire Fighters Charity, and the Aberystwyth & District MAG.

Dougie Bancroft said: "This has been an amazing and very special week, the people we have met and the stories that we have shared has been truly awe inspiring.

"Along the way we have been met by other bikers and members of the general public all keen to support us and to donate to the charities, we have really enjoyed it and it means a lot for the villages that we have visited.

"Assembling here this morning and having a short blessing service underneath this icon Angel of The North was very moving, 'very emotional' indeed."

The Revd Canon David Glover said: "I had never heard of the Thankful Villages before being asked to do this - but it is fantastic that we are able to celebrate the 51 villages that don't have a physical war memorial in this way.

"As we approach the 100 year celebrations of the start of the First World War next year, it's fantastic that churches can open themselves up to the wider community, to show the memorials and commemorations to those that fought in that War and others since.

"At Holy Trinity Washington, as with many other churches in the Diocese, we have close links with the Royal British Legion and we hope that we can help them in their efforts to reach out to the community, particularly through schools so the memory of the great sacrifices that were made in the First World War can live on for many generations to come."

Richard Bell, Governor (Parade Marshal) of Washington branch of the Royal British Legion: "It means a lot to see the support from members of the public here to today for this event and for them to take an interest, their support and time is greatly appreciated."