The first big event of the calendar year is the BMAD (Bikers Make A Difference) Festival held at Paignton on the early Bank Holiday in May.
This year the festival clashed with the inaugural Honiton Sausage and Cider Festival, but we were still fortunate to get eight or so members who were able to go and staff the DFW stand over the three days. Over the years BMAD has been a very generous support and we always try to make a positive contribution to their event.
Friday saw the opening of the event at 6pm. Much credit must go to Steve Jenner who had done the lion’s share of the work in putting up the DFW tent and adorning it with all manner of flags and banners. Les was supposed to be there helping all afternoon, but arrived at 5.45pm having battled his way down the M5, Bank Holiday traffic and all, after an emergency run to Cardiff – at least that was the excuse he used.
The success of the Festival is always weather dependent, and this year the motorcycle gods were beneficent and delivered a St Tropez like climate – although the early part of the morning was a little chilly. Saturday saw sunglasses, sombreros and sun tan lotion a plenty. It also saw our Steve out in the central thoroughfare asking the now famous question of bikers “Are you local?” in an attempt to recruit more riders, particularly for the South.
On the Saturday and Sunday the Devon Freewheeler emergency bikes were a feature in the main arena, where they rode circuits - blue lights blazing with the occasional shrill cry of the sirens, much to the delight of the hundreds of children who were watching with their parents. A comprehensive commentary of what we did was given and very well received. Particularly endearing was the ‘group wave’ where, having done their circuits, all four bikes lined up abreast and the riders waved to the crowd, before riding off with ‘red arrow’ like precision.
Many very positive comments about our work and commitment to the people of Devon were received as we went back to our stand. People are far more aware of us then they were even a year ago. Lots of bikers and members of the public wanted to give us money and we explained that, by giving to BMAD, they were indirectly giving to us, as BMAD have been major contributors over many years.
We were very fortunate to have such enthusiastic and committed members throughout the three days, they spent a lot of time engaging with bikers and the public and, or course lifting children on and off the marked bikes for the inevitable photo opportunity, not forgetting the now sought after DFW sticker.
The BMAD festival always shows Devon Freewheelers in its finest light, committed, knowledgeable, engaging and professional in our approach. Members such as Mo and Adrian who travelled from Seaton and Plymouth respectively epitomise the sort of commitment and pride we have. A fledgling organization such as ours will, invariably, experience difficulties and have problems, but when all that is stripped aside, and we see the incredible reaction and support we get from the public, it will always come down to one thing – what we do is good, very very good.