Bikers to doff their helmets in Fred's memory

by Lyndsey Rawle



On Sunday bikers will inflate 31 black balloons in Westminster to celebrate the life of anti-helmet law campaigner and all-round leader of the pack Fred Hill. And in Wakefield cyclists will take to the streets in their droves to show their support.

Motorcycle Action Group (MAG) members will gather at the Redbeck Cafe in Crofton at the time the balloons are set free to commemorate the 20th anniversary of Fred Hill's death.

A total of 31 balloons will mark the amount of times that Mr Hill, who died in custody, was sent to prison.

Mr Hill was born in yorkshire and spent the Second World War as a dispatch rider. He refused to wear a helmet, preferring instead to don his trademark beret. He received hundreds of fines, which he refused to pay and kept in a battered old suitcase.

He was sentenced to 60 days in Pentonville Prison in 1984 and halfway through his sentence he died of heart failure, aged 74.

Eddie Johnson, from the Wakefield branch of MAG, said: "It's about freedom of choice. I have ridden bikes all of my life and should be allowed to make that choice of whether or not I wear a helmet. Isn't it for my protection anyway? Sometimes when tuning a bike it's not possible to hear the engine if you are wearing a helmet so what's the point of that?"

Sunday has officially been declared Fred Hill Day and bikers from across Yorkshire will meet at the Redbeck Cafe at 10am on Sunday.

Campaigners are currently trying to change the law and say forcing bikers to wear helmets is an infringement of their human rights. In America most states have now changed their laws on helmets as a result of persistent campaigning over the past 30 years.

Source: Wakefield Express, Friday 13th February 2004. Reproduced with the kind permission of the Wakefield Express (Yorkshire Weekly Newspaper Group)