It’s been a few weeks since this amazing experience sadly came to an end. Normal life kicked in pretty quickly with two of us working the very next day. Wayne took the following two days to ride back to Aberdeen, clearly 3,500 miles was insufficient for him. He also did it with a chest infection, talk about making a hard challenge even harder and without his three biking buddies to help him along. I think he was grateful for some peace and quiet!


Our last day didn’t disappoint! It was a reasonably leisurely start for us, meeting at West Wellow before riding through Salisbury and Amesbury to Netheravon on a gloriously sunny spring morning. We met Andy Pendragon, Senior AFISO, at the gatehouse and he escorted us through the airfield, to the tower. Louise was back with us following in her car, so we had a full team. What a very pretty airfield Netheravon is, if a little windy! It’s all grass, taxiways and runways and from the VCR, you have 360-degree views of rolling Wiltshire countryside and wildlife. It’s about 10 minutes’ drive from Stonehenge, which you can’t quite see from the tower because it sits behind a crop of trees and is home to the Army Parachute Association where you can book a tandem skydive should you have the stomach for it and the Red Devils, the Army’s Parachute Display team.


The airfield is operated by Flight Information Service Officers from 1700-0100 in the morning! It’s predominantly used as a night-time army training airfield and mainly by helicopters. Outside of these times, the tower isn’t staffed, so if the Red Devils want to go jumping, they look after themselves.


It’s a truly gorgeous hidden gem and we were sad to leave but we were due at Middle Wallop just up the road.


Sharron Bird, an Airforce buddy of Wayne’s had been patiently waiting for us at the Netheravon gate and she joined us on her Triumph Tiger for the short hop to Middle Wallop. Like Wattisham, it’s a fully functioning army base with very tight security. Once through, we followed Ben Wyatt, SATCO in a follow me vehicle (I consider ourselves experts in this field now) to the tower. A second-generation Apache helicopter had been parked on the apron for us to take a look at and have some photos taken. In contrast to the one at Wattisham, this one had some missiles hanging off it, so naturally they were more cautious to our proximity with the bikes. I guess it looks bad in the accident book had we accidentally nudged one into a missile?! Harvey took some great shots with his new best friend Mr Apache but I still don’t think it surpassed him meeting one of his idols when we were in Northern Ireland, former British motorcycle racer, Phill McCallen.


By now we were hungry and thirsty and what a treat was in store for us. Ben had run into Burbidge’s bakery in Andover and bought what looked like half the shop. They had a full buffet of baps, pastries, sweet and savoury laid on for us which was extremely welcomed and hit the spot. We stayed in their rest room for ages, talking to the team about what we had been up to and what it’s like for them as civilians working on an army air base. As with every unit we’ve visited, we could quite easily have stayed for hours chatting but again, we were on a tightish time constraint. It’s another glorious view from their tower especially on a sunny day, where we watched a few light aircraft departures and a couple of Apache movements.


Fed and watered, it was time for the very last leg to Western Radar but not before saying goodbye to Sharron who Wayne hadn’t seen since 1985, when they worked at RAF Leuchars together. It was then through the beautiful green Wiltshire & Hampshire countryside to an agreed meeting point just outside of Romsey, where two RAF colleagues from Swanwick joined us for the ride in. We also had a whistle stop meet and greet with Pete Dawson, who had given us loads of help and tips planning the legs through Spain. He had just returned home via a ferry that morning, jumped on his bike to meet us and say hello, then straight off again to pick his grandson up from school! It was lovely to see him and say thank you albeit for quite literally five minutes!


We had mixed emotions riding to Whiteley. We felt happy with the way the entire trip had gone, an element of relief that we had made it unscathed, excited to be reunited with our families again (except Wayne of course, that would take another 2 days) and of course sadness that it was all coming to an end.


I’m not sure what any of us were actually thinking when we rounded the last corner but there was a lot of laughter over our intercoms. Probably best that no one else could hear it!!

We pulled in front of our headquarters main entrance to an unbelievable welcome. I can’t describe what we were feeling except perhaps a little overwhelmed. So many people had come out to meet us and congratulate us, it was quite emotional, and we can’t thank everyone enough for downing keyboards and halting meetings to come and say hello.


After a few photos with everyone we rode the bikes round the back of the restaurant to an even bigger reception, clearly most people had been asked to gather here and not around the front. Not for the first time this trip, my children nearly pulled me off my bike because they were so keen to give me a hug!


Alistair Borthwick, Chief Financial Officer, Jarret from Prostate Cancer UK and Neil Tucker from Aerobility all said a few words. Thanks to a last-minute donation, (you know who you are!) our total was a few pounds over £45,000. Unexpectedly, Alistair announced that NATS were going to add another £10,000 to our total. Unbelievable, and we cannot thank the Exec team enough for that donation. £55,000 on the day and as I write, we’re now just over £60,000…and we’re not done yet!


Despite the melee outside and as difficult as it was to gather the team together, it was up to Western Radar to officially bring the road trip to a close. Claire Harrison, Head of Western Radar showed our now extended team around the unit with Dan Dudman, Deputy Ops Supervisor. Simon Rawlings, Deputy Ops Supervisor even joined us at the pub later that evening.


The list of who we need to thank for making this adventure so successful is huge. There have been so many people involved from the very start, all the way up to arranging our welcome home, not to mention those at all the units we have visited to make us feel exceptionally welcome. We can’t list them all, there’s too many but I know everyone involved knows how much we have appreciated their involvement, help, support, and encouragement. There is no way it would have been as successful without every one of them. Thank you all. 


This was for Alan, Wayne’s friend. I hope we did him proud.


I want to sign off by saying thank you to Wayne, Harvey, Rich and Louise. Quite literally, couldn’t have done it without you. Thank you and until the next time…