Wakefield MAG February 2009 Newsletter

Dear Wakefield MAG member,

Welcome to the Wakefield MAG e-newsletter. If you canít attend our Wednesday meetings regularly, itís the next best thing to keep you up to date with what we are up to.


1) Wakefield AGM
2) 5th Post Christmas Auction
3) Fred Hill Run - Sunday 8th February
4) 2009 Rideouts
5) Wakefield MAG Facebook Group
6) MAP visit
7) Wakefield Hospice Events
8) EY MAG Christmas Blues Party Report
9) Motorcycle Test Update
11) No. 10 Petition
Fred Hill Obituary

1) Wakefield AGM

The branch held itís 7th Annual General Meeting on Wednesday 14th January 2009 at the Grey Horse. Twenty five Wakefield members attended the AGM, together with Sheila MacFarlaine (Yorkshire Regional Rep) and Jane Chisholm (National Chair MAG UK). This was one of our best attended AGM's so a huge Thank You to everyone who attended (and a whopping 75 branch points duly awarded to all).

2008 had been another fantastic year for the branch. We packed an enormous amount of activities into the year, achieved an awful lot, made a lot of money for MAG (Wakefield are the biggest fundraising group in the region, who don't run their own rally), but above all, had a lot of fun along the way. Particular thanks were given to the 2008 committee, which is widely felt had been the strongest and best committee in the history of the branch. The Branch finances were looking very healthy so we voted to make a sizeable donation of £500 to the MAG fighting fund, via Yorkshire MAG.

Our new branch committee for 2009 was voted in and this is:

This is virtually the same committee as last year so it bodes extremely well for yet another successful year for the branch.

Our branch heroes for 2008 were:

A number of motions were raised regarding improving our rideouts and raising more yet funds for MAG. Keep an eye on the newsletters for more info Link.

The full AGM minutes are published on this site Link.

2) 5th Post Christmas Auction

We held our 5th Post Christmas Auction on Wednesday 28th January at the Grey Horse and what an auction it truly was. We had a packed venue and were particularly pleased to welcome along members of Leeds, York & Barnsley MAG branches, together with our National Chair, Jane Chisholm, the regulars of the Grey Horse (who had been looking forward to the event ever since the last one in January 2008), and lots and lots of others from the Wakefield area and beyond.

The sheer volume of items donated this year, and the quality, was absolutely unbelievable. For biking gear, you could have completely kitted yourself out with gloves, boots, trousers (leather and textile), jackets (again, leather and textile), lids (full face and open face) and a whole host of water proofs. Lots of other bike related items (spares and accessories) together with household goods (kitchen ware, lighting, pictures, ornaments, electricals and bathroom accessories), smellies, beauty products, chocolates, beer, clothing, books, CD's, DVD's, video's, exercise gear (including a full size treadmill and free weights), car accessories, cuddly toys, and the list just goes on and on and on.

Wakefield MAG members Eddie Johnson & Daz Pearson would have made Flt Lt Hendley proud (the scrounger in the Great Escape) by obtaining hugely genorous donations from local dealers and traders (see list below).

The auction started just after 8pm and lasted well over three hours with no breaks. There was particularly frenzied and competitive bidding for a good number of items, including a very large ornamental gargoyle which went for an unbelievable £22 in the end !!!! Toby was in a competitive bid for a life size cuddly toy dog, until he realised he was bidding against a young boy who had his heart set on it, so did the decent thing and threw in the towel (but not before it had reached a most impressive double figures amount).

We managed to clear virtually the lot, with the remaining unwanted items being donated to the local Wakefield Hospice Charity shop.

A huge thanks to our auctioneers (Ian, Daz, Chaz & Martin), who all did a most sterling job and are all truly wasted in their day jobs, and could make a fortune as market traders and barrow boys !!!!

The auction this year raised nearly £450, which, bearing in mind the bidding on a lot of items started at 50p, is a staggering and truly impressive result !!!! Even more impressive is that this amount is more than £100 better than our previous best of £330, not bad considering the world is in a global recession !!!

We advertised a split of the proceeds of 2/3 to MAG and 1/3 to a charitable cause so the MAG fighting fund will be healthier to the tune of £300 !!!!. This takes the Wakefield MAG annual fund raising total for the MAG fighting fund to £800 and we are only one month into 2009 !!!! We will take a vote at this Wednesday's meeting on which charitable cause we donate the remaining 1/3 (£150) to. More news on this in next months newsletter.

Particular thanks have to go out to the following local dealers and traders for their most generous donations:

They are all heroes and thoroughly deserve your business.

We will be holding another Post Christmas Auction in January next year so, hope to see you there.

3) Fred Hill Run - Sunday 8th February

This is the first of the Yorkshire Region events for 2009 and will also be our first rideout of the year. The Annual Fred Hill run is always very well attended (despite whatever the weather throws at us) and is an event not to be missed. The run assembles at Squires at 11:00, and leaves at 11:30 for a marshalled ride to the Sun Inn at Norwood near Otley. Wakefield MAG will meet at our usual point (Stork Lodge Tea Rooms, Thornes Park, Thornes Road, Wakefield) where we will have a mass ride-in to Squires. Meet at Stork Lodge at 09:30, leaving at 10:00 for Squires where we will meet up with other Yorkshire MAG branches and MCCís for the Fred Hill memorial run.

As this run counts as a MAG Demo run, attendance at this event will earn you 75 branch points (as opposed to 10 for a normal ride-out). As points really do mean prizes, what more incentive could you possibly want to attend !!! Hope to see you on Sunday 8th Feb.

(If you don't know who Fred Hill was, check out the Obituary at the end of the newsletter)

4) 2009 Rideouts

It wasn't mere co-incidence that our best attended ride outs last year were those where we publicised in advance where we were going (Tan Hill (even though we only got as far as Hawes), Whitby and Scarborough being notable examples). So, building on what seems to be a winning formula, all the Wakefield MAG rideouts for 2009 will have advance notification of where we are heading. We already have our dates set, for all our Sunday (monthly) rideouts, from March through to November, but you can help decide where we should go. Suggestions so far include:

From May to August, we also plan to hold monthly evening rideouts (on a mid-week night, but avoiding Wednesdays at that's our meeting night at the Grey Horse). Ideas for evening rideouts so far include:

The aim is that by the publication of the March newsletter, we will have every run destination planned for the entire year, so everyone knows not only when the rides are taking place, but also where we will be heading. Of course, we are not saying we will not get lost, even though we know where we going, as we need to maintain our 'Lost Riders' nickname and enviable reputation ?!?!

The usual rideout guidelines will still apply:

So, get your thinking caps on and submit ideas for our Sunday and weekday evening rideouts for the year. Email suggestions to the branch email account, or pop down to any of the Wednesday meetings. We will gather all the ideas together at the end of February, and vote on them, thereby ensuring only the most popular get chosen. We will then widely publicise the rideouts, and hopefully attract a few new members to boot.

I look forward to hearing your ideas.

5) Wakefield MAG Facebook Group

Wakefield MAG now has it's very own Facebook Group. The group, which is open for anyone to join, has been set-up by Wakefield MAG member Lisa Brooker.

The group is a great way of generating new members and interest in our branch, as well as advertising our events, uploading pictures and chatting with other group members. Membership of the Wakefield MAG Facebook group is growing fast.

So, if you are a Facebook user, be sure to join the Wakefield MAG group !!

6) MAP visit

At the branch meeting on Wednesday 18th February, we are to host a talk by MAP Events Manager and self styled Crown Prince of Yorkshire, Pete Walker (cue raptuous applause). Pete will give an overview of MAP, how it works and a potted view of it's history, from humble beginnings to what is now the major fund raising arm for the Motorcycle Action Group (and host to the UK's best biker rallies). Pete will also talk about his plans for more local group (that's us, Barnsley & Sheffield) involvement with the set-up and take-down of the Yorkshire Pudding Rally. Pete's talks are always entertaining (whether he means them to be or not !!) so this is one meeting night to not miss.

We also hope to have our branch allocation of rally tickets for sale at the meetings very shortly (delivered in person by Mr Walker on the 18th, or shortly thereafter). Ticket prices for this years MAP events are maintained at last year's credit crunch busting prices (ITV £15 Pre-Book; FYP £25 Pre-Book; Ganton Gathering £15 Pre-book and YPR £15 Pre-Book). Let me know if you want some.

7) Wakefield Hospice Events

Following many years involvement with Wakefield Hospice fundraising events, we will again be helping our very good friends at the charity with two of their key events this year:

The 10K race is on Sunday 5th April and we will again be providing an escort for the races wheelchair competitors (1 bike per wheelchair competitor), plus a back marker. The bikes provide protection to the wheelchair competitors from traffic, as the race is held on normal open public roads. This charity event is very well attended, and attracts some seriously good atheletes. There is a new route this year so more details to follow as and when we get them. Please help marshal this prestigious local event and let me know if you plan to attend.

The May Day Gala is again on the Bank Holiday Monday (4th May) and is the day after ITV. We will again be hosting a bike show and the Yorkshire MAG stand as an attraction at the Gala. It is yet to be confirmed if the Gala will be on the football pitches as last year or in Clarence Park Arena. Last year we had a most impressive turnout (over 50 bikes and 8 trikes in the show). Let's try to beat that this year !!!!

8) EY MAG Christmas Blues Party Report

Twelve Wakefield MAG members attended the East Yorkshire MAG Blow Away Your Christmas Blues Party on Saturday 10th January at the Sun Inn in Beverley. We all stayed over at the White Horse Inn at nearby Hutton Cranswick for the bargain price of £5 per person, with Full English Breakfast costing £4.50 the following morning, unbelievable bargain or what ?

The party itself was a cracking night and featured live music from the Spirit Levellers, all the way from Richmond, NY (that's North Yorkshire, not New York State). The party had a serious side and that was to raise funds for P.A.C.T (Parents Association of Children with Tumours and Leukaemia), via donations and raffle / tombola. We all bought tickets with varying degrees of success (but mostly none). The pub was packed and as most of us hadn't had any tea, we wandered off to find food outlets, half heading to the local Kebab shop, and the other half opting for a more civilised sit down Indian restaurant. On the way back to Sun Inn, we stopped en-route for a swift pint in a less packed pub and ran into Scarborough MAG, and passed a most pleasant and amusing hour (we won the arm wrestling contest !!).

A brilliant night and the icing on the cake was that the tombola and donations made a staggering £1,157 for P.A.C.T. for research into children's cancer. A result in anyone's book !!

9) Motorcycle Test Update

The Driving Standards Agency (DSA) have just formally announced their decision to introduce a two-part modular practical motorcycling test. Bookings will be taken from the 30 March 2009, and the first new format tests will take place on 27 April 2009.

Ket governement decisions:

Motorcycle Test Delivery points in the Wakefield 'district' area:

Watch this space for the MAG response and further updates.


MAG's 2009 AGC will be held on Saturday 4th April at the Hurworth Community Centre, 41 Hurworth Road, Hurworth Place, Darlington, Co Durham, DL2 2BN (5 miles from A1/A66/A68 and 10 miles from A19).

75 branch points up for grabs for all who attend.

11) No. 10 Petition

A petition is posted on the No.10 web site calling for the Govt to never allow wire barriers to be placed on British roads. Wire crash barriers can act like cheese cutters to motorcyclists and have been responsible for a number of deaths. Wire barriers are already banned in Norway due to the danger they pose to vulnerable road users.

If you want to sign the petition, it can be found on the No.10 website: petitions.number10.gov.uk/cheesecutters

Deadline to sign up by: 01 April 2009

That's all for this month and I hope to see you all soon.

Ride Safe
Steve Travis
Wakefield MAG
0772 078 4734

Wakefield MAG meet at the Grey Horse, Kirkgate, Wakefield at 8:30pm every Wednesday. New (and Old) faces are always welcome.

Fred Hill Obituary

Fred Hill died in prison on the 10th February 1984 while fighting against bureaucratic interference with his choice to ride a motorcycle without wearing a crash helmet. Many people may have heard of Fred Hill but not actually know who he was and why he is remembered with such respect by the Motorcycle Action Group. Fred Hill was not a natural rebel, let alone a candidate for public enemy status. Born in Yorkshire, he spent the war as a despatch rider, after which he pursued a peacetime career as a teacher of mathematics.

Fredís involvement with MAG and the anti helmet law campaign began in 1976 after the Sikhs gained and exemption from the law. There were those at the time who were uncertain about Fredís motivation, fearing that it might be racist, born of the resentment that an immigrant minority were enjoying preferential treatment. Those who met Fred, heard his speeches, and got to know him a little, were re-assured that this was not the case. If Sikhs did not have to wear helmets then nobody should have to although he rarely ever made any reference to the Sikhs' preferential treatment.

While Fredís personal campaign was passive, it was absolute, in that Fred never wore a helmet and never paid a fine. In consequence, huge number of summonses began falling through his letter box, when a journalist from the motorcycle press went to interview him in his home in Hayes, Middlesex, Fred produced a sizeable suitcase packed with summonses that he kept as souvenirs, all unpaid. It was his refusal to pay the fines, rather than the helmetless riding offence, that led the courts to imprison Fred, the charge being the more serious one of "Contempt of Court". Although he was always polite to the authorities that pursued and imprisoned him, Fred was totally unimpressed by people in high positions, and was never intimidated by them. On one occasion a woman magistrate was endeavouring to chastise Fred for breaking the law, to which criticism, Fred, implicitly referring to Emily Pankhurst and the female emancipation movement, replied, "if it hadnít been for a woman breaking the law, you wouldnít be sitting there now madam".

Fred was sentenced to a total of 31 prison sentences over the eight year course of his campaign, sometimes for as little as twenty-four hours, rising to a maximum of two months, his final spell which he half completed in Londonís Notorious Pentonville prison. On one occasion, when his one day sentence was to be served in a police cell, the desk sergeant who hadnít bothered to lock the cell door, told Fred, "stick around until no-ones looking Fred and then bugger off". He didnít always get off so lightly however. Once during spell inside in the winter time, some tools went missing from the prison work shop, and Fred, along with all the other prisoners implicated, was strip searched outdoors in the freezing cold. Fred wrote to his friend Brian Nicholas at the time, expressing doubts about how much more of this kind of treatment he could take. Fredís attitude to prison life was not cavalier; he hated being locked up, particularly when he had to share cells with unsavoury people which, inevitable, he often had to do.

Besides enduring many prison sentences, Fred boosted the anti helmet law campaign by attending many MAG demos, at which he made speeches. Despite his age, Fred would ride considerable distances for which purpose he traded in his moped for a 250 Honda. No matter how far he had travelled or how bad the weather conditions were he always rode home the same day after a demo for his wifeís sake, and declined offers from MAG to provide him with bed and breakfast accommodation.

Fred was invariably booked for riding helmetless on demos, and on more than one occasion arrested. In 1978 a run was held in Eltham, south East London, without police permission. It was only a small affair but the SPG were sent in to break it up, and Fred was arrested for assaulting a police officer. The charge was bizarre and caused the police considerable embarrassment as Fred pursued the case through the courts until his name was cleared. In his own neighbourhood however, the police usually turned a blind eye to Fredís legal indiscretions as he rode around in his characteristic brown beret. Fred risked more serious charges by often pointing out, to the crowds he addressed and in the presence of police officers, that if everyone followed his example, the helmet law would be repealed. He could arguably have been charged with inciting others to break the law and it is to the credit of the officers present that they never chose to pursue this line.

It was during Fredís 31st prison sentence that he suffered a heart attack and subsequently died while still in custody. An enquiry, held to establish whether Fredís treatment had contributed to his death, found no evidence for this. Clearly the stress of being incarcerated in a hostile and uncomfortable environment, particularly for a man aged 74, can hardly have been an irrelevant factor.

Surprisingly the national media never latched on to Fredís campaign, as one might expect they would, although as a human interest story his was a very powerful one. A significant exception to this blanket of silence was provided by the journalist Auberon Waugh, who not only wrote about it at the time in the Daily Telegraph, but made a point of honouring Fred each year on the anniversary of his death as long as he held the Telegraph column. The MP Matthew Parish also wrote a splendid piece charging the political contemporaries with hypocrisy in promoting freedom when such liberality cleared obstructions to making money, but inhibiting personal liberty where individual freedoms are concerned.

MAG owes Fred Hill a colossal debt for the example he set us. I hope that this article will make people realise why MAG continues to argue for voluntary helmet use. The best way that we can attempt to repay the dept we owe Fred Hill is to keep alive the issue that he believed so strongly in. Please note that MAG is not against the wearing of helmets, merely the infringement of personal choice in being forced to. The helmet law marked the start of the long series of laws imposed upon bikers and scooterists by misguided politicians, who think we need protecting from ourselves, which have culminated today in flawed proposals for legislation including leg protectors, air bags, day-glo clothing and design restrictions, most of which have been proved to do more harm than good while destroying the concept of the motorcycle as a cheap, economical, environmentally friendly and fun form of transport.

Source: Ian Mutch, Chairman, Motorcycle Action Group (UK)