Santa swaps a sleigh for a motorbike on run for special school

CHRISTMAS DELIVERY Bikers from the Eagle Riders dressed as Santa with Shaun Simpson at the Mary Rose School.  Picture:Steve Reid  (114343-209)
CHRISTMAS DELIVERY Bikers from the Eagle Riders dressed as Santa with Shaun Simpson at the Mary Rose School. Picture:Steve Reid (114343-209)

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BIKERS showed off their softer side as they dished out hundreds of presents for children at a special needs school.

One hundred and ninety bikes from across the south took part in the annual ride from The Square in Wickham to Mary Rose School in Southsea.

RIDER Bob Murch from the Eagle Riders (114343-223)

RIDER Bob Murch from the Eagle Riders (114343-223)

And many of the bikers got into the spirit of the event by dressing themselves up as Santa or his elves, and decorating their bikes in a festive theme.

They were greeted at the school, in Gisors Road, by a huge crowd of pupils and their families who had come along on Saturday to see them.

Organiser Darren Preston, from the Solent Virago Star Owners Club, said: ‘It exceeded all our expectations with the number of people who came and the number of bikes that took part and the amount of money that was raised from people’s donations.’

They collected more than £650 in donations from buckets passed around during the day.

Darren, 46, from Havant, added: ‘People were still putting money in the buckets after we had taken it all out to count up, so it’s even more than that.

‘We’ve been doing this a few years now and it’s beaten all our previous records.

‘There’s no one particular bike club that does this – I like to call it the South Coast Bikers, it’s just everybody who participates on the day that makes it what it is.

‘And the bike community is made up of all sorts of people, from bankers and lawyers to whoever – from all walks of life, you name it. Things like this get us away from that stereotype that bikers still have.

‘The school runs on minimum funds as it is and they do a fantastic job, so if we can help, we think it’s a worthy cause.’

All the bikers who take part are asked to buy a small present, wrap it and label whether it’s for a girl or a boy, and what age group it’s for.

‘We covered two massive tables with all the presents which was lovely to see,’ added Darren.

Tony Oakshott, president of the Eagle Riders, said: ‘It’s only a short ride, but that part went well.

‘And when we arrived it was absolutely brilliant, there were loads of families with the children who attend the school waiting there for us.

‘They got to sit on the bikes and have their pictures taken or whatever and it’s a lot of fun. Then we all go inside for a mince pie and a cup of tea.

‘It’s been getting bigger and bigger every year and there’s always a really good atmosphere. I think a lot of people look forward to it now.’

The bikers also carry out a similar run for the school with Easter eggs.

They have been long-standing supporters of the school and one of its two predecessors, East Shore School which closed in 2007.