Huge Rolling Thunder veterans’ bikers event set for seafront procession to promote importance of mental health

Seaham seafront is this weekend set to host what is being billed as the North East’s biggest ever bike meet to promote awareness of veterans’ mental health and raise vital funds to provide support.

The Rolling Thunder bike movement was set up to raise the Government’s awareness of the difficulties experienced by a large number of armed forces veterans following exposure to the horrors of war and returning to civilian life.

This Saturday (July 30) will see up to 500 bikers – all former military personnel - from across the country descend on Seaham to highlight the ongoing plight of former servicemen and women.

Taking part in the event will be former paratrooper Andrew Harrison who will be leading the motorbike procession as part of the Eights and Aces bike group.

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Andrew, 52, said: “I served for 20 years and when I came out, like most former service personnel, I experienced difficulties with my mental health. Many veterans turn to motorbikes when they leave the forces.

"It’s a way for people to release the tension and stresses they may have experienced. On Saturday there will be veterans taking part whose service goes back to the 70s and covers conflicts ranging from Northern Ireland and the Falklands to more recent conflicts in Bosnia, Iraq and Afghanistan.”

The parade will also be raising money for the veterans’ charity Tail End Charlie.

A previous Rolling Thunder event.

Andrew added: “In military terms a tail end Charlie was the person at the back covering everyone else’s backs. The charity plays the same role in covering the backs of veterans’ welfare after they leave the forces.”

The motorbike procession will leave Spectrum Business Park at around 1.30pm before moving along the seafront, passing Seaham Cenotaph war memorial at around 2pm before parking of Seaham Green where a short remembrance service will then take place.

The event will have added significance as it’s the first Rolling Thunder bike meet since the movement’s founder, former veteran Harry Wragg, died last week.

Former paratrooper Andrew Harrison is one of the organisers of the Rolling Thunder event in Seaham.

Andrew said: “This really will be a sight to behold and hopefully in can become an annual event. Anyone who has a motorcycle and wants to support the event is welcome to take part in the procession and anyone who would like to come along on foot to see the bikes is also welcome.”