UTTOXETER cyclists returned from their epic ride from London to a hero’s welcome as a Lancaster Bomber took to the skies.
Last week, 12 men including Uttoxeter Heath borough and town councillor Andrew Riley set off on a London to Uttoxeter 200 to raise money for the Inside Outers Youth Group and returned to the town on Sunday.
They arrived in glorious sunshine to a cheering crowd as the Lancaster Bomber flew overhead, followed by a party with a singer and disco in the evening.
Councillor Riley said: “It was awesome. I cannot thank MP Andrew Griffiths enough for organising a tour of the Houses of Parliament. It was amazing and the lads loved it.
“Some of the lads had never been to London before and we took a tour including Hyde Park and Buckingham Palace before heading back to Parliament Square for the start.
“In London there was the roar of the crowd cheering and clapping us on. We were just a sea of orange and it was an amazing buzz. The lads were overwhelmed.” After leaving London the men rode 62 miles to Reading and then on to Witney, in Oxfordshire, but five punctures in one day made it more difficult, luckily Uttoxeter Cycle Centre had provided them with spares.
Doorstaff at Izi’s bar, in Witney, collected for them, raising £146 and the next morning they left another roaring crowd to continue on their journey, heading through Stratford.
On Sunday, they headed home at 8.30am.
Councillor Riley continued: “As we made our way into the town we could not get over the number of people. When we got into the Market Place a fire engine showered us with mist to cool us down.
“The roar and the cheering made us emotional. Just before the finishing point we all got off our bikes and with the support driver Ryan Dyche we all walked over the finishing line together.
“To see so many people from the local community come out to support us was amazing.” After they arrived Tina Hughes, from the Inside Outers which provides activities for vulnerable children, thanked the riders for all their hard work.
“I would like to thank all the people involved, we raised around £5,300 which is an amazing amount to help a charity of that size and will allow them to take in more children” added Councillor Riley.
“Every rider got a medal and flowers like at the Olympics. I would like to thank the whole town for supporting us all the way through and the press for promoting it.
“We could not have done it without the support and the sponsors. It shows that when the town needs to pull together, it will do.
“We set out to put Uttoxeter on the map and the lads are so proud of the amount we raised. It really was the trip of a lifetime.” The team is now planning its next adventure in the hope of it becoming an annual event for local charities.
The fly-past brought back memories for some of Uttoxeter’s older generation. Ron Carter, 91, of Kingfisher Way, who worked on the planes of the 617 Squadron, the famous Dambusters, said: “I wept. It could not help but bring tears to my eyes.
It was really lovely to see.”