A thankful village in south Northants welcomed a group of motorcycling fundraisers who are touring the country to recognise the contribution made by soldiers who made it home after the First World War.
The Thankful Villages Run, a nine-day charity ride which is visiting the 51 UK villages which saw all their soldiers return from the front line, dropped into Woodend, near Blakesley, on Tuesday night to present the village with a commemorative plaque.
Because their military heroes returned, the ‘thankful villages’, like Woodend, have no traditional war memorial and the bravery of their young men is often forgotten, though many who left to fight were scarred physically and mentally by their ordeal.
As well as recognising the debt paid by the young men who returned from the Great War, the run aims to raise £51,000 for the Royal British Legion.
During the First World War, Woodend, which had 272 residents, sent 92 soldiers to the front line with all of them returning.
The run was the idea of Dougie Bancroft and Medwyn Parry, who decided to take the run further afield after visiting the three thankful villages in Wales, raising £2,500 for Help for Heroes.
The run started at Llanfihangel y Creuddyn, near Aberystwyth, on July 27, and will finish at the same point on August 4.
Spirits were high among a group of RBL members and village residents who turned out to greet the run, but after a delay in their journey from Stoke Hammond, the two motorcyclists reached the village just before 9pm.
Village resident Thelma Wilkinson said it was an immensely proud moment and, on behalf of Woodend, they were grateful to Mr Bancroft and Mr Parry for carrying out the special journey.
The event is being supported by Triumph, which supplied 30,000 motorcycles, known as ‘Trusty Triumphs’ to the allied forces in the First World War.
A spokesman for Triumph said: “We owe a huge debt of gratitude not only to those that took part in the First World War, but also those that have made similar sacrifices in subsequent conflicts. Many are still doing so today and the RBL provides invaluable support to UK service personnel.”
The Triumph motorcycles feature a bespoke poppy field designed to help them stand out on the road during their trip, at the same time as promoting the RBL.
The term ‘Thankful Villages’ was first used by writer and journalist Arthur Mee in his book King’s England, a guide to counties in the UK in the 1930s. For more details visit www.thankfulvillagesrun.com/schedule.php.