Strokestown/Westport Motorcycle run raises thousands for Hospice

Geoff Cooper  An idea hatched by five very wet motorcyclists in Bundoran has now developed into one of the major events in the Irish motorcycle calendar. It has also become one of the major fund-raisers for the Mayo/Roscommon Hospice Foundation.    In the early spring of 2002 a group of local riders were asked to take part in a motorcycle run between Carrick and Donegal. When I spoke to Des Kiernan (one of the organisers of our local event) he mused that the Carrick/Donegal run was, to put it mildly, a little chaotic. As the soaking wet riders took a well-deserved break in Bundoran they decided that it would not be difficult to do better themselves.    A short stop over on the way back at the riverside cafe in Carrick saw all in agreement that an event starting at Strokestown should take place later that year.    Gerry Kelly decided upon the route. The machines and riders were to leave the Percy French and take in all the major towns and villages on a Northerly route with an overnight stop in Westport. The return route would take a Southerly direction ending up back at the Percy French.    Fifteen bikes made that first run and raised €4,600. Every cent was donated to the Hospice. From those humble beginnings things have gone from strength to strength and last year’s event raised over €50,000, with over one hundred riders taking part.    This year’s event, which takes place on the 21st and 22nd of June, has also taken on an international flavour with several riders travelling from England and Germany. Mick Steward from Addlestone in Surrey is attending the ride for the third time. He told me that obviously the main object of the exercise was to raise money for a cash-strapped organisation. A large group will also travel from Kilkenny. Mick also alluded to how wonderful  the welcome was from his Irish counterparts and said the camaraderie was second to none.    I recently spoke to Cynthia Clampett who is the Chief Executive Officer of the Mayo/Roscommon Hospice. She told me how the motorcycle run had become a phenomenal success and is now one of the major fundraisers for her organisation. She told of how State funding for the Palliative Care Service in the West has been and still is grossly inadequate. She said the reality of it is, the service would not exist without the generous support of fund-raisers such as the motorcyclists and the support that they get from the public at large. Cynthia added that the Foundation needed to raise over €1 million to cover 08 service costs.    I then spoke to Donal Power, another major organiser of the bike run. He told me that with the support of the public he felt sure that last year’s figure could be surpassed. He also stressed that every single cent collected is handed over to the Hospice. Donal says ‘we have never paid expenses to anyone, every cent goes to Hospice.’    Donal wished to extend thanks to the sponsors, including the Percy French Hotel, Kevin Campbell (Kon Tiki), Hotel Westport and all others who have helped out.    He pointed out that every rider taking part also paid their own way with regard to fuel and hotel accommodation.    This year’s run will start from the Percy French Hotel in Strokestown, leaving on the 21st of June at 9 am. Riders will arrive back at the Percy at around 5 pm the following day.    Further information can be obtained from Denise Nolan on 086 1717057 or Donal Power on 087 2341403 or Des Kiernan on 086 8330035. Any donations should be made out to the Mayo/Roscommon Hospice and can be sent any of the above or to Donal Power, c/o The Roscommon People, Unit 4, Harrison Centre, Main Street, Roscommon. Sponsorship cards are available from any of the above.    * Due to large turnout of bikes on the day motorists may experience some inconvenience, but given the good cause the organisers hope that this is accepted in good spirit.    Further information on the Motorcycle Run from Hospice office Knock: (094) 93 88666. Your support is greatly appreciated. Your chance to help the Hospice  If you would like to make a donation to the Mayo/Roscommon Motorcycle Run, contact Denise Nolan on 086 1717057 or Donal Power on 087 2341403 or Des Kiernan on 086 8330035.    Donations will also be accepted at Roscommon People office c/o Donal Power, i.e. Donal Power, c/o The Roscommon People, Unit 4, Harrison Centre, Main Street, Roscommon.