A Blyth man will be joined by hundreds of people for a final ride-out with his terminally ill son after a great response from the biking community.
Mark and Kristina Hartley’s sons Jamie, 22, and Kyle, 24, were young boys when they displayed signs of Juvenile Huntington’s Disease (JHD).
Their condition has got progressively worse and Jamie is at the stage where he only has months to live.
He enjoyed going for rides on quads and motorcycles, but now he is a full wheelchair user and cannot control his movements, so Mark knew the only way his son would be able to still enjoy going on a ride would be in a sidecar.
Mark put out an appeal for help on Facebook to 30 of his friends and it went viral. Within two hours there were 400 replies. By the next morning, there were 1,400 replies.
Jamie’s last ride, organised by the North East Bikers group, is now set to take place on Sunday, April 2. Participants will set off from a point at the Blyth end of the A193 Links Road and head to the Brierdene car park.
After a half-hour break to give people in the area a chance to see the bikes, the group will return to Blyth via a different route. They will go along the Beehive road (B1325) and through Seaton Delaval.
Mark said: “We’re amazed with the response from the biking community. Our story has touched many hearts.
“Merlin Sidecars of Durham is providing the newest version of its road-legal sidecar and we’ve had many offers of support from people in countries such as the USA, Canada and Germany, including the use of a special wheelchair that is so good it can go up mountains.
“The help in organising the event has been fantastic and there will be activities and stalls on the Friday and Saturday, as well as the Sunday.
“I wanted to have a last ride-out for Jamie because the only thing that has made his face light up in the last few months is when I got his pit bike out and cleaned it up, so it would start for him, and took it into his bedroom.
Mark will be riding next to his son on an Aprilia 660. Kyle and he and Jamie’s sisters – Anastasia, 15, Imogen, eight, and Trinity, six – will all be taken along on Can-Am three-wheel vehicles.
There is camping for bikers from 5pm on Friday, March 31, to 5pm on Sunday, April 2, in an area listed as Gloucester Lodge Playing Fields, but known locally as Meggies Burn.
There will be stalls and food along with some other attractions at the Mermaid Café car park from 10.30am on the Sunday and the ride-out will start at about 11am.
Cars and vans are welcome to join it, although they will need to follow-on behind the bikes.
TT riders will be taking part in the ride-out and they will also be present at an event in The Seahorse pub in Blyth, on the evening of Saturday, April 1, which includes an auction.
For more information about the programme, visit www.facebook.com/JKHartleyJHD