THOUSANDS of bikers are set to hit the streets of Wokingham this weekend as one of the staples of the Christmas calendar returns for its 30th year.
The record-breaking Toy Run, which is organised every year by the Reading Christian Bikers, will see up to 2,000 motorcyclists, decorated in festive gear, roar through Wokingham on their way to deliver toys to Barnardo’s in Wiltshire Road.
Sean Stillman, organiser and co-founder of the event, said he is continually blown away by the generosity displayed every year.
He said: “This is a huge logistical operation, 2,000 riders is a staggering statistic. The Toy Run is a right of passage for a lot of local motorcyclists.
“We have a manual an inch thick to make sure it’s run safely. We also get great co-operation from Wokingham Council and the police. We put signs up to warn people about it because we know we are a disruption.
“People are incredibly generous. As well as what is donated on the day people collect toys and gifts and deliver to High Close School by the van load.”
The event was started in 1985 by 18 friends from the local branch of the Christian Motorcycle Club delivering presents to children in local hospitals, but last year it entered the Guinness Book of World Records for the largest organised toy run.
Sean said: “Our connection with Barnardo’s is very important. They are able to handle the large volume of gifts. We couldn’t make this work out without them to help us.
“Barnardo’s High Close School will keep some of the gifts there and any cash raised by the run is donated to the school to pay for specific events, art materials or books. The rest of the gifts which include toys, electrical items and gift cards for older children are then donated to people who need them through the Barnardo’s network.”
The bikers will meet at 1pm at Foster Wheeler (formerly known as Shire Hall) RG2 9FW, before riding down Lower Earley relief road to Loddon Bridge roundabout.
The route will then take the riders down Wokingham Road, Reading Road, through Winnersh to Wokingham. At Wokingham they will turn left past Waitrose and then onto Wiltshire Road to the school.
Sean added: “We really want to give our thanks to all the local people. There are roughly 10,000 people lining the route to cheer us on every year. Thank you for your support and for your patience for the gummed up traffic.”