Sheffield’s new Lord Mayor is swapping his chains of office for a bike chain – to raise money to commemorate the city’s war heroes in an epic bike ride.
The Lord Mayor Magid Magid is part of a 20-strong group of riders who will leave Sheffield Town Hall on June 20, setting out for Serre in France, close to the Somme.
Sheffield Town Hall is where hundreds of Sheffielders enlisted for the First World War. Many lost their lives on the battlefields of northern France.
The four-day bike ride, called From Sheffield to The Somme, will raise money to improve access at Sheffield Memorial Park and celebrate the lives of the Pals, stopping in many towns and cities along the way.
Councillor Magid said: “I am very humbled and proud as a Sheffielder to be asked to take part in this brilliant and important bike ride. I am very aware of the supreme sacrifice of those brave young Sheffielders who set off from the Town Hall steps 100 years ago – many never to return.
“This bike ride will raise vital funds to improve the experience for many thousands of people who visit Sheffield Memorial Park to pay their respects.
“I am similarly full of respect to the people I’ll be cycling with and hope the whole city gets behind them.”
Councillor Magid will be using his new mayoral bike for the ride, donated as part of South Yorkshire’s Love to Ride cycling promotion scheme in time for ‘Bike Week’ from Saturday 9 to Sunday 17 June.
The bike was donated by Love to Ride supporter Russell Cutts of Russell’s Bicycle Shed, who said: “Our new Lord Mayor is aiming to modernise the title, and what better way than using a bike for some of his every day travel.”
After the Sheffield to The Somme ride, the Lord Mayor will join more than 2,000 other South Yorkshire people on the free Love to Ride scheme, and says he’ll be riding the mayoral bike into the Town Hall and on other short trips around the city to help promote active travel in Sheffield.
The cyclists, including city centre manager Richard Eyre and Darren Pearce, chief executive from Meadowhall, will depart Sheffield Town Hall on Wednesday 20 June and arrive at Sheffield Memorial Park on Monday 25 June.
The Pals Battalions of around 900 men were formed in the autumn of 1914 following a recruiting drive by the War Office, when thousands of enthusiastic volunteers joined up to help with the war effort.
Men were encouraged to sign on together from similar backgrounds of working trades and professions or sports and social clubs.
The tragic consequences of this idea would be found out when these men went into action together.
The 94th Brigade from Sheffield spent 15 months in training, some of which was at Redmires Camp in the south-west of Shefffield, before sailing to Egypt, only arriving in northern France in early 1916 where they began to prepare to take part in the Battle of the Somme which commenced on 1 July.
The total casualties attributed to the first day of battle were nearly 60,000. More than half of the men who signed up never came home.
Richard Eyre, head of city centre management for Sheffield City Council, is taking part in the bike ride from Sheffield to Serre, which will take around four days.
He said: “Through taking part in this cycle ride we will be raising awareness of the heroism of the Sheffield pals, and many thousands of others, on those tragic days in our recent history.
“It is important that the city honours these soldiers and by raising money, and donating these impressive steel plaques, we are doing just that.”
Darren Pearce, Centre Director at Meadowhall and part of the centre’s fundraising cycling team for the event added: “As a Centre we are very proud to support and honour our service personnel, but with 2018 marking the 100th year anniversary of the end of World War One we wanted to go the extra mile – quite literally.
“We’re delighted to be part of this and hope as many people as possible will be able to support us.”
Fundraisers will be on the steps of Sheffield Town Hall this Friday (June 8) to raise awareness of the cycle ride.
To sponsor, go to https://bit.ly/2HbRyqY.