Reading Toy Run 2014

This article has been copied in its entirety from The Reading Toy Run blog written by Rev. Sean Stillman (he’s the one with the long hair, leathers, Harley and a dog-collar).

2014 Toy Run Success! Thank you!

The 2014 29th Annual Reading Toy Run proved to be more memorable than ever this year. Thank you so much to everyone that took part in what became a world record setting occasion.

World records aside, Barnardo’s High Close school have the privilege of distributing several thousand toys and gifts across a vast network of their own Barnardo’s projects and also dozens of other local children’s services. Your participation and generosity is greatly appreciated – as was everyone’s patience as the queing took a lot longer this year.

Thanks for your patience

That World Record….What’s the story?
As the 2013 Toy Run entered Wokingham, a gentleman commented, “wouldn’t it be great if this run could be entered into the Guinness World Records”. That man was Sandy, who had for many years been the principal at High Close School. He was the one who many years previous, had opened the school to a bunch of bikers to bring their gifts and enthusiastically saw the occasion grow and set up the distribution of gifts around an increasing number of projects. Sandy retired from High Close some years ago, but continued to support the event but sadly he passed away in recent months. This year’s world record setting attempt was to honour his memory and show our appreciation to Sandy’s family. Quite simply the Reading Toy Run would not be what it is without Sandy’s openness and welcome all those years ago that led to an ongoing partnership with High Close School.

From 2003, Sandy with Ben (centre) and Sean (left)

We know there will be bigger Toy Runs going on in the world, in fact in the past our own event has seen bigger numbers on occasions. But no official record had ever been set and we were able to set up a meticulous process, which did mean it did take a long time to log everything, and we are pleased to be able to report that the first recorded Toy Run entry is 1735 participants!
That’s 1735 who took part in the whole ride who presented a toy. This doesn’t include the further 592 who were accompanying others, or brought other gifts such as football shirts, vouchers, iPods or other gadgets – all of which are needed, but for the purposes of the record it was specifically toys that counted.

Reading Toy Run thrives on a network of sincere relationships, as an organising group, with Barnardo’s and among the thousands of those who turn up on the day. It also is about a generosity of spirit and gifts. If we lose either of those it ceases to be what it set out to be. 2015 will be the 30th anniversary of the event – don’t necessarily expect to see another world record attempt, the amount of logistics involved is huge, but do come with the same commitment to the cause and generosity of spirit that will benefit many many children.

In the same way the Toy Run is based on relationships and gifts, we are reminded in this Christmas season the heart of the Christmas message is based around relationships and gifts.

The connecting and sometimes reconnecting of our own relationships and the mystery of God connecting in all the frailty and vulnerability of the human experience in the form of a baby can be the centre of our own celebrations. As we share time and gifts with one another, may we also find those moments of definition and maybe surprise, as we peel through the layers of wrappings, to expose the ever present gift of God’s grace and mercy amid the busyness of this Christmas season.

God bless you and your loved ones this Christmas and on behalf of all the organisers and those who will benefit from your generosity, our sincerest thanks and deep appreciation of your support of this event.

…and that folks, says it all.

Ben receives the certificate

Thanks to Garry and the 140 Marshals

Thanks to Denis and the Road Crew

One hour before departure and already 1000 waiting. By the time we left both other parking sections were full!
Thanks also to the local media, Foster Wheeler, sponsors, residents and well wishers along the route and all the other unsung heroes that provide pa, refreshments, logistics, insurance, publicity and a safe event.

From the Saddle (November 2014)


Hi everyone, this is the last bit from me this year (no Slipstream in December) so I’ll keep it brief.

Charon, Pat and I spent the day at Aston University in Birmingham on Sunday 2nd November representing TVAM at the IAM National Conference. This was a well organised and well attended event, and a good chance to catch up with Chairs, Chief Observers and the like from many other IAM groups across country. We each attended a number of workshops covering a range of topics from IAM Strategy to Riding Standards. Some confirmed what we already knew and some of it was new information. We’ll be issuing a write-up shortly with our own views on each of the topics.

It seems the long summer days are well and truly behind us. Colder mornings and dark evenings are the order of the day at the moment. The sun being low in the sky low brings its own problems with reduced visibility. If you’re commuting towards London in the morning and back again in the evening you will know exactly what I’m talking about. Of course, low sun brings long shadows that can leave patches of the road we ride on wetter or icier than the surrounding area. Roadcraft refers to these as Micro Climates. The section in How to be a better rider starting on page 100 also has some excellent advice on riding in tricky conditions. If you haven’t read those sections yet then I recommend you do.

If you have read them, a refresh never hurts.

An Advanced Rider is always one step ahead of the game, always anticipating and preparing to act if necessary. Remember the three questions you should ask yourself as you ride and that form the basis of your riding plan;

  • What can I see?
  • What can’t I see?
  • What can I reasonably expect to happen?

Always travel at a speed that is applicable for the prevailing conditions and stay safe.

This month we wave goodbye to our Membership Secretary, Steve Watson, as he moves to Devon to be surrounded by running ducks (I kid you not). On behalf of TVAM, I’d just like to say thanks to Steve for all of his hard work over the past few years, and for the home-made biscuits and cakes that kept us going in our Committee meetings. We wish you all the best and I’m sure you’ll be seeing some of us down your way soon.

Andy Wedge
Chief Observer


Advanced Driving Magazine

IAMbuttongreen300Good to see that the IAM Chairman, Alistair Cheyne OBE is checking out his member groups’ websites (or at least his media and marketing people are…)

Quote from the “Welcome” section of the Winter 2014 magazine:

… we can learn a lot from our motorcycle groups. Take a look at the Thames Valley Advanced Motorcyclists website. You’ll see a group of 900 members, with plenty of social, sports and activity motorcycling.

Shame he got the name wrong but nice to be recognised for the work that goes into designing and maintaining this website.

Unfortunately, this mention seems to have no measurable affect on the website visitor numbers. Maybe nobody reads his column (?)

From the Chair (Slipstream October 2014)


Hi everyone,

So we’ve had fabulous weather for biking. Now what are you going to do? Are you going to ride less because it’s wetter, colder and darker?

  • Read your Roadcraft, or better still get someone else to provide salient points – if this sounds like a good idea go on a BikeCraft course.
  • Go on our new course that shows you how to use TYRE to plan a route, then step up and volunteer to lead a ride in 2015.
  • Apply for a new job? The IAM is recruiting for a new Chief Executive to replace Simon Best, who has just left this position.
  • Go to the Motorcycle Live. 22nd-30th November at the NEC Birmingham.
  • Carry on riding?

Do what you can to enjoy your time on the bike, and but please keep on applying all your skills to aid smooth riding, and apply good planning to avoid accidents. Why would I ask this of you? Well, of course it will reduce heartache, pain etc. plus it will help statistics. The knock on impact of this is it reduces reasons for groups like those communities in Wales, governments, DFT bodies such as Vulnerable Road Users and councils to consider reducing limits and reducing the places where national limits are currently applied. If you don’t need four wheels for work, then stay on two – reduce congestion and use fewer parking spaces. Apparently the Federation of European Motorcyclists Association says it is saves you money!

Charon Willis


7Ws #30 Spring 2015: 10th – 12th April 2015!

Yes, the next 7Ws will be held in the Spring of 2015 from 10th to 12th April, and will be the 30th time that this fantastic event has run. Even more opportunity to improve your riding standard and build your TVAM network. Watch out for some special celebratory touches… Bookings aren’t open yet – but get the dates in your dairy and watch this space for updates and bookings!

There’s more information about the 7Ws under the 7Ws menu items on the left.

Posted in 7Ws

Richard Tickner Charity Skydive – thanks to all my sponsors.

Many, many thanks to all those of you who made a donation to the Thames Valley Air Ambulance fund and I sincerely hope that you never need to cash it in. The sponsorship came to £550. Well worth the jump. If you are looking for a different speed thrill then skydiving will do it for you – 150mph straight downwards. Wow!

The only downside is that my recollection of the event is that the free-fall lasted a few seconds when it was nearer 60 and the whole thing seemed less than a minute but was over five.

The skydive team said that if you do it often enough, the time and recall match better. Hmm, I will take their word for that. Although, the thrill of free-fall is very tempting…………