2015 once again sees another year in the history of Ride to the Wall. Saturday 3rd October will see the 8th year of the event, which started in 2008 with an anticipated 200 people attending, which on the day turned out to be 2,000. Since then the event has grown to over 20,000 people attending from all over the UK, as well as Europe and further afield. In 2014 we saw the first year of heavy rain on the day but attendance was still at record numbers.
Since the first year, the supporters of Ride to the Wall have managed to raise almost £320,000 towards the upkeep of the National Memorial Arboretum which is expanding on a daily basis, and these much needed funds are greatly received and appreciated. In 2015 the BASRA Wall will be shipped from Afghanistan to the NMA as another significant memorial for us all to pay our respects at.
Ride to the Wall is becoming a year-long planning process for the committee and volunteers and their dedication is reflected in the service that takes place to remember the 16,000 names on the wall of the Armed Forces Memorial, as well as the donation that is made each year on Armed Forces Day at the NMA.
In January of this year the NMA had an exhibition at the House of Commons, and Ride to the Wall was asked to be represented at the opening of the event. One of the committee members attended and the feedback just shows how far we have ALL come on this emotional journey, and something I hope you are all extremely proud of. The pride I feel is indescribable:
"It was a privilege to represent Ride to the Wall, and I was introduced to the gathering of 30 or so cross party representatives and Service brass, individually, by Sarah Montgomery MD of the NMA. On each introduction she emphasized that RTTW are the single largest donor to the NMA, and it was in that capacity she had singled us out to be there on the night.
I spoke to one senior Peer who had had experience of Charity work and overseeing of the Government's Charity budget. He stated that it was very unusual to hear of a Charity that had not sought out any Government funding, and that was laudable as we represented a true charity with every penny taken going to the cause."
The RTTW merchandise and information tent will be attending more events this year, allowing us to spread the word to a wider audience, and the hope is, that the numbers attending on the day to remember those that can no longer ride by our sides will increase, which in turn will hopefully increase the donation we make to the NMA.
On behalf of the committee and all the volunteers that make Ride to the Wall such a special and moving event I would like to thank you all for your continued support. I look forward to seeing you on 3rd October, if not sooner at various events throughout the year.