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Wall to Wall Ride for Remembrance 2014

The ride is all about remembering mates, those police who lost their lives on duty, and promoting motorcycle safety all in the name of Police Legacy.

Each rider and pillion pay a registration fee to participate and all money raised is distributed to Police Legacies around Australia.  This year’s ride attracted the largest contingent in its five year history. On that first ride organisers were delighted when 600 motorcycles took part. Everyone was overwhelmed this year as the ride took 21 minutes to pass one point. Riders came from every state and territory. The Northern Territorians decided to make theirs an even longer ride by visiting the Police Memorials in Adelaide, Hobart and Melbourne on their way from our own memorial in Darwin to the National Memorial in Canberra.  Seven NT Long Riders headed off from Darwin - Kerry James (Baton Holder), Steve Heyworth, Clint Richardson, Brendon Molloy, Eric Edgecombe, Ian Davie and Ed Hayden. In Adelaide Julie Heyworth joined the ride as a pillion. Debby James joined them in Melbourne along with retired Superintendent Colin Smith.

Four of the contingent toured Tasmania. Stuart Winter joined them at Colin Smith and Sally Kendall’s Alpaca property outside Bairnsdale.  The NT Long Riders used the Alpine Hotel in Cooma as their base for the weekend of the Wall to Wall ride; being hosted by former NT Police Officers Michael and Kris Sharkey.

“On the Wall ride in Canberra we were joined by serving officer Paddy Ban and retired officers Rory Bluett, Tom Parker and Mick Brennan,” says Steve Heyworth. “Throughout the course of the ride there were many lies told and numerous fines (for NT Police Legacy)!  Most of us that completed the whole trip had ridden over 10,000 km during the few short weeks. We visited all the Police Memorial Walls excluding WA and local sites we visited included Bill Condon’s gravesite in Katherine and Shane Kappler’s in Tennant Creek.”

The National Police Memorial is a special place, honouring and remembering those police men and women who gave their lives in the line of duty. The Wall to Wall Ride for Remembrance is a tangible way those lives lost can be commemorated while raising money for Police Legacies, the important organisations that look after the families left behind. They will always be a part of the police family. More than $400,000 has been raised to date.

President of the NTPA and the Police Federation of Australia Vince Kelly spoke of his personal connection to the Memorial.  “This year marks the 30th anniversary of the on-duty death of NT police officer Sergeant Ian Bradford in a tragic motor vehicle accident and the 15 years since the murder of my friend and squad mate Brevet Sergeant Glen Huitson, both of whom are remembered on this wall.”  Vince Kelly also made special mention of NSW Assistant Commissioner Mick Corboy and retired Inspector Brian Rix who developed the idea of the annual ride. “This is a true sign of the police spiriting shining through yet again and all that is good about the police culture.”  Only one name was added to the 756 already commemorated on the National Police Memorial this year – Senior Constable David Hobden from Victoria. In 1990, Senior Constable Hobden was riding his police motorcycle and was involved in a collision with a car. He was off duty for 12 months as a result of his injuries and never totally recovered from the physical trauma of the collision. David Hobden died in December 2011, leaving a wife and three children. His widow, Glenda took part in this year’s ride to pay tribute to her husband.

“It is an emotional time for me. Exciting and humbling. I am very proud to be taking part and overwhelmed by the way everyone is looking after me,” said Glenda Hobden when she arrived in Canberra after a two-day ride from Victoria with more than 250 other riders.

Victoria’s Commander Doug Fryer laid a wreath on the memorial and asked Glenda to accompany him. It was impossible not to be moved when, as they stood in silent contemplation at the memorial, Doug put his arm around Glenda’s shoulders. “She needed a hug,” he said later. Glenda Hobden was in no doubt that she is still an important part of the police family. Vince Kelly said, “Our thoughts are prayers are with you and your family, Glenda, as they will always be with you and the families of the other 756 heroes on this wall.”

Each year a commemorative baton bearing the names of those members who have tragically lost their lives is carried to the memorial by one of the riders from each jurisdiction. Those batons are laid on the memorial as a sign of respect for those fallen officers.  At the end of the service the batons are conveyed back to their home state to return again next year. It is hoped that no new names will be carried in the commemorative batons in 2015.

Queensland’s Commissioner Ian Stewart summed it up when he said, “This is a wonderful way that we, collectively, show our respect for those who have passed. This is a great way to show the people of Australia what wonderful policing agencies they have.”