Saturday 7th November 2009 saw the Salvation Army Toy Run take place from the Showcase Cinema, Hyde Road, Manchester to the Trafford Centre.
Members of GoldWings North Wales met up at the Chester Services on the M56 – Jan and I, Nigel and Joanna, Dave and Elaine, Dennis, Paul and Jan, Pete and his sister, Bob, and finally, Chris and Amy, a great number for this event. At 9.00 am we set off for Manchester to the meeting point at the Showcase Cinema on Hyde Road.
Having got as far as Stretton on the M56 we saw two Wings stationary on the bridge over the motorway, they waved as we passed underneath and a couple of miles later I saw them slotting in behind us.
This turned out to be Mike Maloney and his mate, Baz, who had started off to join us but having decided they wouldn’t make it in time to the meeting point, chose to intersect the route and join us on the way.
After a nice clear trip to the meeting point at the rear of the Showcase Cinema, we were marshalled into a parking area for Goldwings and set about registering. By this time there were a few bikes already at the location and there were good sized queues for the drinks and hot food which were being provided by the Salvation Army in return for charity donations in in the nearby buckets provided. More importantly, there were hardly any queues for the loos which had been provided on the site.
Soon there were some other wingers from Lancs and Lakes Region arriving on site but unfortunately the attitude of one or two of them meant that they wanted to shun us, while we were quite happy to go and talk to them and greet them as friends.This I found very disappointing as I have always tried to be open and friendly to other wingers.
Just before 10.45 the first of the bikes engines were started up and that started a chain reaction. The noise was quite something, especially to my sensitive ears. I reduced some of the racket by donning my helmet but I really felt sorry for anyone living close to the cinema car-park.
Eventually the run started and we edged slowly forward and into the fray. The Police had stopped the traffic to let us enter the main road but no further police input was noted at any junction.
The lack of police marshalling also meant that we did not go through the city centre either, and we stayed on the faster routes with less spectators around. This really did spoil the whole purpose of many of the bikes and riders being dressed up with the Christmas decorations and suitable outfits. I had not taken the effort to dress my bike or wear costume, but I felt sorry for those who had obviously spent so much time and effort to bring smiles and happiness to the spectators who had cheered us on previous years. Their efforts were lost on the few spectators who saw us this year.
Eventually, we arrived at the Trafford Centre and were marshalled into the parking area. There were a good number of professional-looking TV filming set-ups at the Trafford Centre and no doubt there would have been some coverage in the news.
There was a lot of disquiet amongst riders, who I heard passing comment, about the lack of spectators on the route we had to use through the withdrawal of police assistance. I know of several riders who said that they will not be taking part next year, if another toy run is held.
I think it is a shame that a charitable event like the Toy Run should lose out, due to the Police deciding to withdraw their assistance to marshal the event.
Update : It now turns out that the lead marshal for the run was pulled in by the police and booked just after the parade started. That really shows the change around and total contempt the police now have for charitable runs.