Welsh bikers to visit Morpeth and Hunstanworth on their UK Thankful Villages tour

A pair of big-hearted bikers rev up today for an epic ride to honour First World War combatants whose heroics are often overlooked

he two Triumph motorcyles from the Thankful Villages Run and motorcylists Medwyn Parry (left) and Dougie Bancroft.
The two Triumph motorcyles from the Thankful Villages Run and motorcylists Medwyn Parry (left) and Dougie Bancroft.

A pair of big-hearted bikers rev up today for an epic ride to honour First World War combatants whose heroics are often overlooked.

They were the residents of the so-called Thankful Villages which suffered no fatalities during the 1914-18 conflict.

There are only 51 of these villages in the UK, including just two in the North East – Meldon, near Morpeth, Northumberland, and Hunstanworth, near Consett, County Durham.

Welsh motorcyclists Dougie Bancroft and Medwyn Parry plan to visit all of them, covering 2,500 miles and aiming to raise £51,000 for the Royal British Legion.

The term Thankful Villages was coined in the 1930s when their good fortune must have seemed a blessing to communities still coming to terms with the loss.

But in time, according to the two Welshmen, this began to look more like a mixed blessing.

Because the Thankful Villages lost no men, they had no war memorials to remind people of the bravery of those who had fought and, in many cases, been scarred physically and mentally.

In each of the villages they visit, Dougie and Medwyn will present residents, including descendants of those who fought, with a commemorative slate plaque and a certificate in remembrance of their contribution.

The pair, whose journey begins near Aberystwyth, are due to visit the North East next Saturday. They will attend a service and blessing by Canon David Glover, of the Royal British Legion, at the Angel of the North, Gateshead, at 9am, before heading off up the A1.

They plan to arrive at Meldon at 11am and at Hunstanworth at 1pm before arriving at the Thankful Village of Ousby, Cumbria, at 3pm.

The men have various business sponsors including Triumph Motorcycles, the Leicestershire firm which supplied 30,000 machines to the allied forces during the First World War.

They will ride Triumph Trophy tourers decorated in a special poppy livery.

Other bikers are invited to join the pair on any part of the ride for a minimum donation of £5 per day.

“Just check out the schedule, arrive with a full tank and remember that it is a ride of respect rather than any kind of race or endurance test,” said Medwyn Parry, a military historian.

Full details can be found online at www.thankfulvillagesrun.com

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