Bradford’s Big Ride


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WELCOMED: Big Ride organiser, Dermot MacWard, spoke about the project with residents in Bradford including Bradford West MP, Naz Shah

WELCOMED: Big Ride organiser, Dermot MacWard, spoke about the project with residents in Bradford including Bradford West MP, Naz Shah

Cyclists hop on their bikes for Gaza

Hundreds of cyclists pulled up in Bradford city centre last week as a mass bike ride was organised to raise awareness and funds for those most vulnerable in Gaza.

As part of the Scotland to London ‘Big Ride’ event, the West Yorkshire contingent of riders joined up with their counterparts from across the north of England on Tuesday 4th August to embark on the nine day route to the capital.

The brainchild of Dermot MacWard, a keen adventure cyclist and founder of Redspokes, he has recruited a team of volunteers to help the drive to raise £50,000 for the Middle Eastern Children’s Alliance.

Cyclists as young as 15 through to 80 years of age are taking part in the project aimed at raising funds for children traumatised by the 2014 bombardments in Gaza.

Arshad Ali was the chief organiser of the event in Bradford and has been a long time campaigner for Palestine.

He joined the ‘two wheel convoy’ on Tuesday as it passed through the city and explained why he wanted to get involved.

CHALLENGE: Hundreds of cyclists are joining in with the Big Ride as it passes through several cities from Scotland to London

CHALLENGE: Hundreds of cyclists are joining in with the Big Ride as it passes through several cities from Scotland to London

“As a proud Bradfordian of Kashmiri descent myself, I am only too aware that like Kashmir, Palestine and it's people have suffered for many decades,” he said.

“I very much looked forward to joining the convoy of bikes with Team Bradford and getting on my bike after many a moon. I'm not sure how far I will get but if I can make it to Sheffield I will be most pleased.”

He added: “Personally it’s going to be a great challenge for me. It’s an amazing opportunity to do such a ride, a once in a life time opportunity. It’ll be great to push myself and see if I can do it. I can’t wait to get on my bike and find out what I've let myself in for.”

After spending the night camping in Bradford, the group were off on the next section of their journey as they headed to Sheffield.

In total, 435 miles was covered across the whole route before it concluded in the capital on Sunday 9th August.

The Big Ride event was supported by Gaza Director of MECA, Dr Mona El Farra, who herself lost nine members of her extended family in an Israeli airstrike during the 2014 massacre of Palestinian civilians.

She commented: “The Big Ride is breaking barriers that separate human beings who should be equal regardless of race, colour or religion.

“We dream of a day when we can welcome cyclists in a free Palestine to enjoy the beauty of our country that has been devastated by long decades of Israeli occupation, disposition, and annihilation.”

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