THERE were not quite nine million bikers – but singer Katie Melua still made a surprise appearance at an Easter motorcycle ride in aid of poorly Sheffield youngsters.
The musician supported fiancé, and former world Superbike champion, James Toseland, as he led a thousand riders through the city in a charity convoy delivering Easter eggs to Sheffield Children’s Hospital, yesterday.
A sea of bikers – some dressed as Easter bunnies or superheroes – beeped their horns and waved to crowds as they rode to the hospital.
South Yorkshire-born James was joined by Katie, who he is due to marry later this year, as they visited his Sheffield family for the holidays.
They signed shirts and posed for photographs as it was estimated more than £5,000 would be raised for The Children’s Hospital Charity in the event.
Songwriter Katie, aged 27 – whose song Nine Million Bicycles reached number five in 2005 – said: “This is a fantastic charity to be part of.
“Easter is such a big holiday and it’s so sad some kids have to stay in hospital for it.
“Since I’ve known James he told me about the bike parade and I know he looks forward to it because it puts smiles on the youngsters’ faces.”
Inside the hospital Jack Barnes, 12, was the first patient to meet the couple and said the bikers’ parade was ‘cool’.
The Chesterfield schoolboy was recovering from corrective surgery on his feet.
Mum Mel said: “He has been incredibly brave through the pain he’s had to deal with and he never complains.
“We managed to get out and have a look at the bikes arriving. It’s such a nice event and a great diversion when you’re in hospital.”
The Easter Egg Run started at the South Yorkshire Police Operations Complex, Europa Link, Sheffield Business Park, and was organised by the Three Shires Honda Owners Club.
Big-hearted bikers donated sacks full of Easter eggs for hospital patients, as well as donating £2 to ride.
James, aged 31, who has been writing music after retiring from racing with a wrist injury last September, said: “Whenever I come back to the children’s hospital you can see where the money is going – there’s a new machine or a new monitor. It is such a good charity.
“There is a great response every year and people said there were 1,000 bikers here.
“We’re hoping to raise more than £5,000 this year.”
Sweet-toothed youngsters foraged for hidden treats in a Sheffield farm’s Easter celebrations.
Heeley City Farm left clues for children to track down chocolate eggs at different locations around the farm.
Families also got crafty in the farm’s reception classrooms making last-minute Easter cards, and having their faces painted, on Saturday.
Sarah Hardy, events and publicity manager, said: “It was fantastic. We were overwhelmed with the number of people who turned up.
“There were 70 families there and everyone seemed to have a great time. The weather was a little cold but it soon warmed up.”