Thousands of bikers have been riding through Wootton Bassett to honour the
people of the Wiltshire town - and the soldiers killed in Afghanistan.
Each rider has paid £5 to take part, with the proceeds going to the
charity Afghan Heroes. An estimated 15,000 bikers and pillion passengers
congregated at Hullavington Airfield in Wiltshire earlier.
The first batch of 500 riders left at 1100 GMT to ride to Wootton Basset via the M4
motorway. The event was expected to last until early evening, with
bikers leaving the airfield at 30-minute intervals to make their way to Wootton
About 10,000 riders registered to take part. They were accompanied by some 5,000 pillion passengers.
'Noise and movement'
Crowds gathered along Wootton Bassett's High Street to watch the bikers
pass the war memorial. The town's mayor Steve Bucknell said the "vast
majority" of the people in the town "fully support" what the bikers are doing.
In pictures: Bikers'
"Too many times the town has had to stand still in silence but today
is all about noise and movement."
Local MP James Gray added that people in the town appreciated the gesture and were "very supportive of it indeed".
Sue Sullivan, from Gloucestershire, is one of those taking part. She said: "We rode at 1130 GMT and I've never seen so many bikes. "I'm one of thousands of people who support our girls and boys."
Denise Harris, the founder of Afghan Heroes, said troops on the front
line had sent her e-mails backing the event. She told the BBC: "It boosts morale for them.
"I mean they just are so grateful to the general public for their support and their kindness."
The Bike Run was the idea of 18-year-old biker Elizabeth Stevens.
The ride was organised by Elizabeth Stevens, 18, pictured with her
partner Ms Stevens, a mechanics student at the Central Bedfordshire College,
had only planned to ride through the town with a few friends.
"Our local bike club was throwing around the idea of a bike run," she said in January, "so I decided to make a Facebook page, and it's just taken off". Ms Stevens
is riding pillion on her partner's Harley Davidson Sportster.
Laurence Phillips from Afghan Heroes said the event had gathered pace after being posted on the social networking site Facebook. "It's quite a staggering
spectacle and an unbelievable show of support for the troops in Afghanistan and
a mark of respect for the town of Wootton Bassett."
Ch Insp Owen Gillard of Wiltshire Police said the force was working with the Ministry of Defence and Wiltshire Council to ensure public safety, with police escorting the bikers and a helicopter at the scene.
The Highways Agency said motorists would encounter increased traffic throughout the day, especially around junctions 16 and 17 of the M4.