A MOTORCYCLE club will commemorate the centenary of the First World War by making a pilgrimage to the conflict’s biggest battle sites.
The Boundary 500 Motorcycle group will plant hundreds of wooden crosses bearing personal tributes from North-East residents as they ride through the French and Belgian countryside in July.
Around 50 bikers will embark on the journey, which will end on Monday, July 28, at the Menin Gate Memorial in Ypres.
Here, club members will lay a wreath on behalf of the region during the daily memorial service.
Sedgefield Village Veterans, based in Sedgefield, County Durham, and Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council are supporting the bikers and each organisation has been given crosses for residents to sponsor.
Brian Laverick, founder of Boundary 500, said: “There are a lot of events going on to mark the centenary of the First World War but we want to do something unique.
"We want to actually go to France, to the Western Front, and pay our respects to the thousands of men who are buried in the war cemeteries.”
Sedgefield Village Veterans has been given 100 crosses, on which residents can attach messages in return for a donation towards the town’s First World War centenary commemorations in August.
Veteran David Hillerby said: “I think what they are doing is fantastic and we are proud to be involved. We hope the community will support us too.”
Councillor Eric Howden, chairman of the Redcar branch of the Royal British Legion, hopes to receive 200 crosses to allow Redcar schoolchildren to honour those who died.
He said: “The children have been researching men from the area who fought in the First World War.
“This is a fantastic way for them to connect with the past and what happened in France and Belgium 100 years ago.”
Sedgefield residents wishing to reserve a cross should contact Mr Hillerby on 01740-621343.
Any businesses who would like to sponsor a Redcar cross should contact Coun Howden on 01642-290177 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
All money will be donated to the Poppy Appeal.
Boundary 500, which has raised more than £500,000 for charity since it was set up in 2006, departs for France on Saturday, July 26, following a wreath-blessing service at Sedgefield war memorial at 9.45am.
All are welcome to attend the service.