'Proud' 20,000 bikers finish Dave Myers Barrow tribute ride (2024)

Pamela Tickell & Jennie Dennett

BBC News, North East and Cumbria

  • Published

Thousands of motorcyclists have arrived at the end of a mammoth ride from London to Cumbria to celebrate the life of Hairy Biker Dave Myers.

The TV chef died in February, at the age of 66, after he was diagnosed with cancer.

'Dave Day' has seen a huge remembrance procession of bikers journeying from the capital to Myer's coastal home town of Barrow-in-Furness.

Organisers said some 20,000 people joined the ride up the country - with the distance between the first and last biker spanning about 25km (16 miles).

Fellow Hairy Biker Si King addressed the crowds waiting to greet the bikers and said: "Thank you. You’ve made David Myers very proud."

His words drew cheers, and Myers' widow Lili said: "Dave was always a Barrovian in his heart, he loved Barrow and he wanted to put Barrow on the map.

"And today, beyond his grave, he’s done it again."

Image source, PA Media

The procession began to arrive from about 16:00 BST, waved on by thousands of people, external, and continued to stream into the town into the evening.

One onlooker, Marie, who watched the procession from a bridge near Burton services, around 40 miles from the finish point, said: "The atmosphere was lovely, warm and quite emotional to see so many bikers.

"We were pleased to wave them in and welcome them to our beautiful county of Cumbria."

Organisers said the service station was closed due to the sheer number of travellers.

The procession had planned to stop there for a break but instead drove straight on towards Barrow.

Another onlooker said it was an "utterly extraordinary sight" and "it took about an hour-and-a-half for the bikes to pass us from the first of the group to the last".

Image source, South Shore Productions/PA

As the riders set off on Saturday morning, fellow Hairy Biker Si King described it as "amazing" and a "celebration of the best friend that I've lost".

Many of those who gathered at the start point, the Ace Cafe in north London, were wearing Hawaiian shirts.

King said of the crowd: "Everybody's got that lovely Dave sartorial elegance about them, ie dodgy shirt.

"Some of them have had them specially printed, it's remarkable."

'Irritatingly positive'

He added: "You never know how these things are going to impact you. It is a celebration of Dave's life.

"That's why we're here, because he was so irritatingly positive all of the time. And we love him and that's why we're here."

Before the event, Mrs Myers said: "We have people coming from all over the country. We have people coming from Texas, from Malaysia, from all over Europe.

"Oh, it's endearing. It just helps me go through my process of grief because it just makes me feel that I'm not on my own with all this.

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Image source, PA

Jason Woodco*ck, who organised Dave Day, said the idea arose at Myers' funeral, for which Lili had asked him to "get a couple of bikes together".

"They got to the funeral, had a few beers as you would do, and then the idea came up during the conversation of let's do a memorial ride."

As the crowds in Barrow waited for the procession to reach them, celebrations centred around the Town Hall, external with performances, stalls by local vendors who have worked with the Hairy Bikers on various projects, and a service of remembrance.

The event was also raising money for NSPCC Childline and The Institute of Cancer Research, with donations being split evenly between the two charities, organisers said.

In the run-up to the day, staff and students from Greengate Junior School in Barrow dressed up as Myers.

Those who took part sported fake beards and moustaches, as well as a waistcoat similar to the one the chef wore.

Dylan, 10, said the moustache felt itchy, while teacher Stephen Leigh said Myers was a Barrovian treasure.

"Any sort of focus on the positives of Barrow is really, really good. And it's a marvellous place," he added.

People have travelled from all over the world to take part in the event.

Dawn Mayers, who is originally from Fleetwood near Blackpool, lives in Malaysia for the most of the year.

She decided to come back to the UK especially for the celebration.

"Dave died when we were in Malaysia, so we decided to light a candle for him at a local Buddhist temple.

"We've watched every episode [of the Hairy Bikers], we have every cookbook," she said.

Ms Mayers arrived in Barrow on Friday and said the atmosphere was electric.

Image source, Dawn Mayers

Keni Carrington, 70, travelled from France on Friday and is riding the entire route to Barrow from the Ace Cafe.

Ms Carrington's husband of 35 years, Chris, who was also a biker, died last June following a cancer diagnosis.

"Chris was my soulmate and he would love to have done this ride for Dave Myers," she said.

Image source, Keni Carrington

Meanwhile, riders struggling for somewhere to stay were helped out by local residents offering their spare rooms, caravans, and even their backyards.

Tim Walker offered up his garden in Askam-in-Furness for people to camp out in.

"We thought, well, we've got plenty of room [in the garden]. Got some tents and some spare rooms," he said.

Mr Walker and his wife are also planning to serve breakfast to their eight guests.

He did not want people to pay to stay on his property and asked people to "put a donation in the bucket" instead.

Barrow Town councillor Dani Petrova said of Myers: "He was just a normal guy from Barrow doing us all proud.

She added she was "absolutely gobsmacked" at the reaction to Dave Day.

"The people of Barrow are what makes Barrow beautiful and Dave was one of us."

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'Proud' 20,000 bikers finish Dave Myers Barrow tribute ride (2024)
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