PC Andrew Harper ride of respect raises over £18,000
Thousands of bikers have raised over £18,000 in a ride of respect for PC Andrew Harper who was killed on duty earlier this year.
The rideout was organised by 31-year-old hairdresser, Sian Sloper, from Caversham, Berkshire, who wanted to give something back to the police force, following the tragic incident.
"I was brought up very close to where Andrew was killed and I really just didn’t expect that level of violence and it was awful what happened. I wanted to just bring people together," Sloper told MCN.
"I’ve had my full bike licence for a few years now and when I started planning this, I didn’t know that PC Harper had a bike, too. That only transpired later on."
Each rider and pillion that took part in the ride was charged a registration fee, with the money being split between Harper’s family and four different charities. At the time of writing, the total raised was £18,186, with donations continuing to arrive.
PC Harper was killed while pursuing a group of suspected thieves along the A4. Henry Long, 18, and two 17-year-olds who cannot be named have been charged with murder and conspiracy to steal a quad bike.
The 5000-strong convoy of riders and pillions was led by Harper’s wife, Lissie, who rode pillion on his custom bike, which was ridden by her brother Jake Beckett.
All riders then completed a 15-mile route from RAF Benson to Abingdon Airfield in Oxfordshire, with the locations chosen as the best places to facilitate such a large volume of bikers. Alongside volunteer marshals, the bikers were also guided between locations by supportive members of the public, who lined the streets to applaud and wave at the convoy.
"The count we had was just shy of 5000 into Benson and we had other people joining us along the route. We had roughly 6000 make it to Abingdon," Sloper added. "It’s quite poignant in the fact that Andrew lived and worked and frequented these roads every day.
"Honestly, I don’t think we could’ve got better locations. I was up at the airfield the day before in the pouring rain and I thought 'if it's like this, it's going to be an absolute washout,' but it was perfect and I can’t express enough how good the day panned out."
One of the riders taking part in the event was Lynda Harding, 67, from Witney, who said: "Attending this ride was one of the most moving experiences l’ve had.
"Everyone involved was awesome, but the two most moving things were the public responses as we progressed through the area and the three traffic cops under the A34 fly over waving, clapping and cheering. It just blew me away and the thought of it still does."
This was added to by 41-year-old Katia Lindroth, from Hampshire, who said: "It was absolutely epic and Sian did a fantastic job."
A former police officer herself, Lindroth wore a specially-designed commemorative shirt over her leathers during the ride, paying tribute to PC Harper as well as PC Conal Hills, who died whilst on duty with West Yorkshire Police 13-years-ago, during her last shift with him.
"I've attended a few big events, but I've never attended anything so epic and emotional and calm in all my biking life," she added. "There seems to be a huge respect for the emergency services in general."
Thank you to all the amazing attendees that kindly donated images for the purpose of this story.