The Big Interview: Bikers’ run organiser John Bartlett

Mayor and Mayoress of Grantham Ian and Sarah Stokes with biker run organiser John Bartlett.
Mayor and Mayoress of Grantham Ian and Sarah Stokes with biker run organiser John Bartlett.
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Needy children in the Grantham area and further afield get a boost around Christmas and Easter time thanks to the efforts of keen motorcyclist John Bartlett and his biker pals.

John, 66, is the man behind annual charity rides where bikers come together to deliver presents and chocolate eggs to youngsters in the town and surrounding villages.

This year, an impressive 360 motorcycle riders made the trip from Bottesford to the Grantham’s Meres Leisure Centre laden with toys they had provided themselves. The gifts are then distributed to children from deprived backgrounds in time for Christmas.

John also co-ordinates the annual Easter egg run along the same route to spread joy to young people and elderly people living in residential homes in the shape of chocolate eggs.

What do you enjoy about the annual charity rides?

It’s a lot of fun. We have such a wide range of bikes. This year we had scooters and mopeds and there was even a cut-down VW Beetle trike being ridden along. There are plenty of lady motorcyclists as well as the men.

Everyone enjoys it and we don’t ever get any negative comments.

What gave you the idea to start these rides?

One of the lads I knew used to do a similar thing with the Nottingham Triumph Club. I was living at Bottesford at the time and I thought it would be a good idea to do one for Grantham, as there were a lot of children’s homes and old people’s homes in the area.

This was my 24th year of organising the toy run. We started off with just 12 bikes that first year so it has grown beyond anything I imagined it would.

It must be quite an experience riding with so many motorbikes - what is it like?

It can quite noisy when we all set out together and it is a great experience. In the past when the police used to man the junctions we used to stay together but we get separated now when the lights change.

It is great when we get a turnout like we did this year but it is dependant on the weather. Last year it was wash-out and we only had 12 bikes with 14 cars on the trip.

Have you always been a keen biker?

Yes. I got my first motorbike at the age of 16. It was a little James two-stroke. It cost me £15 which was quite a lot in those days, especially as I was only earning £3 a week.

I now ride a newish Honda Tourer and try to get out once a year for some touring. When the weather is good I like to get out riding the bike throughout the year.

Do your family share your love of riding motorbikes?

My wife, Peta, hates motorcycling. I took her on the back of mine once but that was enough for her to be put off!