Purple helmets bow out: Final ride will be in August 2022

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The Purple Helmets motorcycle display team, best known for their comedy stunt shows at the IOMTT races, performed their final mainland English show last week as part of a farewell tour which ends on the Isle of Man this August.

Formed nearly three decades ago, the amateur troupe are known for performing on Honda C90s while wearing oversized brown greatcoats, became so popular they’ve toured the world, starred in videos and even ridden in front of royalty.

But with years and age now taking its toll they’ve finally decided to call it a day. Their final show will be at the Great Laxey Duck Races on Saturday, August 20, 2022.

“We’ve been doing this for 27 years and have had a wonderful time,” the face and commentator of the Helmets, 74-year-old Derry Kissack, told MCN.

A member of the Purple Helmets display team

“Sadly some have died over that timespan, one is very ill with cancer and younger people don’t think quite like us. People say: ‘Why don’t you get new blood?’ But we are what we are and sadly decided it wouldn’t be the same any more.”

The group started out trying to raise money for a local motorcycle club.

“I was chairman at the time,” continues Derry. “And we had an idea to get the great Steve Colley (Manx world trials and stunt star) to do a show. He said: ‘Well, I could but I need a back-up act’. I approached some lads who were enduro riders. They said ‘Yes, but what will we call ourselves?’ Somebody said ‘Well, we’ll be a bit like the White Helmets…’ and another added, tongue-in-cheek, ‘…More like the purple helmets!’ And that was how we started.

“It’s been a wonderful time. People would have given their back teeth to have done what we’ve done. We’ve laughed our way round the world and even did a show for Prince William.

“We used to ride for a crate of beer and always stayed amateur ‘cos we said money would spoil it. And it never has. It’ll be quite emotional I think.”