Stories: Interview

Bikes against bullies

Triumphs join feel-good ride

Riders in anti-bully campaign

Riders ride to feel more alive; they’re romantic, expressive, sometimes poetic and often more connected to their surroundings than your average person.

Not our words – they’re repeatedly the findings of psychologists who believe that swinging your leg over a Thruxton or feeling exhilarated on a Bonneville reminds you of the things that really matter in life.

For a growing band of riders there’s a far deeper, more spiritual reason to feel good about taking the Triumph on a ride-out with real purpose.

Bikes Against Bullies (BAB) was launched in the UK by rider and soon-to-be Bonneville owner Chris Cooper after his 12-year-old daughter and 10-year-old son endured ‘12 months of hell’ at the hands of bullies at their school in the north of England.

Founder Chris Cooper and team from Bikers against Bullies
Founder Chris Cooper and team from Bikers against Bullies

Life-changing support

The concept he has adapted from a successful scheme in the States is simple. Child victims of bullies are supported by the group’s volunteers, who offer to visit the youngsters in an emotion-charged and life-changing show of support.

Before that stage, the child and his or her family are offered counselling, advice and support from the not-for-profit organisation, which allocates a family liaison officer to each case.

The awareness message is so powerful and is having such a huge feel-good effect on the riding community that in just six months, the ranks of the group’s UK supporters have swollen to 6,500 and the Facebook page is bursting with positive messages.

“We get a lot of Triumph riders volunteering. They are a very caring bunch. Some of the volunteers were once bullied themselves but some have admitted they were bullies, so they both know what it feels like,” admits Chris.

 

Chris, a former National Health Service employee, adds: “My background means the group is set up in a very professional manner, with all safeguarding rules in place before any contact is made.”

It usually takes two to three months from the time a family first contacts BAB before any direct intervention can take place.

“The school and the police didn’t want to know when my children were being bullied, so I started taking them to bike nights and breakfasts and everyone made such a fuss of them. Their confidence grew and they are much better now, thanks to the motorcycle community,” he says.

Cool kids

Dozens of riders have turned out at pre-arranged publicity visits, the latest to support seven-year-old Darren Stevenson, who was attacked by bullies near his home in Lanarkshire, Scotland. He and his friend were subjected to a relentless bullying campaign for eight months – until 50 Bikes Against Bullies riders rolled into town in a show of strength. After they left, Darren asked to go out to play for the first time in months.

The Inaugural Run to St Mary’s Loch – Selkirk- Scotland
The Inaugural Run to St Mary’s Loch – Selkirk- Scotland

Chris says: “By having these riders come in to their community or school to show their support, the children become seen as the cool kids because, let’s face it, motorcycles are cool.

“The aim is to create awareness because the sad truth is bullying affects more than 43% of children in the UK and it has to stop because our children deserve to be safe, and to be empowered and to live their lives without fear.”

Visit bikesagainstbullies.co.uk or check out their Facebook page.