Bikers from the Boundary 500 Club are celebrating smashing through the £500,000 mark for charity.
Since the club formed in 2006, hundreds of motorcycle fans have ridden their machines in aid of the Great North Air Ambulance Service (GNAAS) and the Zoe’s Place baby hospice in Normanby.
The proceeds of their rides and Santa Runs, where scores of Santas ride their bikes between Teesside’s main towns, means the total since 2006 has now topped the half million pound mark.
The group takes its name from the 500-mile area covered by GNAAS.
Founder, Brian Laverick, a retired policeman of Ingleby Barwick, admits he’s astonished how quickly they’ve passed the landmark amount.
Speaking to the Evening Gazette, he said: “When I first thought of the idea, there was no way I thought that in seven years, we would have collected in excess of half a million pounds.
“While the main focus was initially on raising money, it soon became apparent that it was just as important that we could wherever possible help raise the profile of the two charities.
“And there’s no doubt we have inspired other people to arrange events and collect money by way of events and sponsorship.”
Brian admits it has been a lot of hard work with long hours, although he says the support from the likes of wife Carole, chairman Paul Joyce and secretary, Karen Fixter, has been crucial.
Along the way, he says, he has met “some fantastic people whose enthusiasm has been a tonic and inspired me to increase the group’s commitment.”
There have been a few lows, he admits, with the tragic death of John Toner, who died in an accident in 2007 while taking part in one of the group’s events, nearly causing him to call it a day.
The group has tackled the likes of an 8,000 mile trip around the coastline of Europe, having the group’s logo on the GNAAS helicopters, being made patrons of Zoe’s Place, raising money for and delivering eggs to senior citizens at Easter and, the Santa Runs, now such an integral part of the Christmas build-up on Teesside.
And 2014 promises to be memorable, with group members heading to Ypres, Belgium, in July to laying a wreath at the Menin Gate commemorating the 100th anniversary of the First World War.
Brian said: “I think our record of achievement and commitment speaks for itself and people regularly contact us to be involved.
“The Santa Run has now, thanks to the commitment of a number of partners, become an established event within the North-east.
“And while the ownership rests with the group, it has become a regional event which people love to see.
Mandy Drake, head of fundraising at GNAAS, said: “Boundary 500’s support has been truly remarkable over the years. They are one of our biggest supporters and the lives they have saved over the years are phenomenal. We cannot thank them enough and we hope our partnership is as fruitful in the future. From all of us at GNAAS – thank you.”