BIKERS are paying homage to their friend who died in a motorcycle accident by tackling a 1,200-mile ride in his honour.
Teacher and motorcyclist enthusiast Neil Hamilton was killed in a crash in April.
The 60-year-old, of Offerton Close, South Hylton, died after a collision with a pick-up truck while riding his 600cc BMW bike.
Mr Hamilton, who was married to Christine and dad to Mark, 27, and Christopher, 24, was pronounced dead at the scene by an air ambulance paramedic.
The former IT, business, science and maths secondary school teacher was an advanced motorcyclist who used his teaching experience to train other bikers.
After his death, friends and biking colleagues decided to raise money for the Great North Air Ambulance.
Paul Steele, chairman of Hylton Hornets Motorcycle Club, organised a sponsored motorbike trip and set off on Thursday with 24 members of the club on a five-day tour of Scotland.
He said the members wanted to raise money in Neil’s memory because they knew him as a biker, but also because the cost for the air ambulance to attend the crash was about £10,000.
“We thought that by doing the bike ride we could get the profile of the air ambulance up and also raise money for them,” he said.
“And we aren’t just doing it for bikers, but for every motorist and person who is involved in an accident that the air ambulance attend.”
The bikers set off from The Golden Lion pub, in South Hylton, at 9.30am yesterday.
They will visit Oban, Ullapool, Perth and Dumfries on their trip, which cost each rider about £500.
Club member Wesley Pepper, 42, of Biddick, Washington, is taking part dressed as Batman.
“I rode with Neil a few times,” he said. “When we found out he had died, we had a minute’s silence for him and said we would help the family in any way we could.
“Then when it was suggested that we raise money for the air ambulance in his memory, we were all really keen to do it.
“His family are on board, and we are hoping to raise about £2,000. It should be fun doing it in fancy dress.
“We do the ride every year, but it will be a bit different doing it for charity this year.”