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Golding resident plans 3,800 mile motorcycle ride in aid of charity

Tony Little June 2018

A former RAF mechanical transport driver who believes a Golding Homes saved him from homelessness and changed his life is planning a 3,800-mile charity motorcycle ride in aid of the Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund.

Tony Little, a Golding Homes resident who lives in Hardwick House, Maidstone, wants to thank the charity for the help it gave him when he was recovering from a triple bypass operation. He and five friends will leave Chatham Dockyard on 1 September and head up the east coast to John O’Groats before biking down the west side of the country all the way to Lands End and back to Chatham via the south coast.

Tony, now 58, left the RAF at 25 after nine years’ service and worked as a long-distance lorry driver, but at the age of just 45 he needed triple bypass surgery after a heart attack. “The benevolent fund helped me get back on my feet after the operation, which left me determined to find a way to repay the charity,” he recalled.

Tony returned to driving, but in 2012 an accident at work left him unable to use his right foot. The long, slow recovery brought on additional problems, including diabetes and breathing problems linked to his heart condition. When he finally left hospital, Tony found himself at a particularly low point in his life. There was no way he could stay in his private rented flat because he couldn’t climb the stairs, and his landlord would not allow any adaptations. 

It was then that Golding Homes came to his rescue. After his occupational therapist referred him to the council, he was put in temporary accommodation, and a few weeks later the association offered him the place in Hardwick House that he now says “changed my life”. Once settled into his new home, Tony was able to focus on the Round the Outside charity trip, which will see the team riding classic-style Royal Enfield motorcycles provided by the manufacturer.

“This new home has let me keep my independence and gives me the support I need. I am happy and well looked after and grateful to Golding Homes for stepping in when otherwise I would have ended up homeless,” Tony explained.

Tony and the rest of the team, including friend and co-organiser Peter Spowage, are hoping to raise an impressive £10,000 from September’s ride and have already raised a considerable amount of sponsorship. As well as riding machines supplied by Royal Enfield, the group is being supported by Oxford Products, which is providing the motorcycling gear they need, and a number of other companies that are helping offset the cost of accommodation en route – although more support is still needed.

The cost of the fuel for the three-week trip is being met by property management company Advance FM.

The team will be talking to groups at events en route and is determined to highlight the wartime sacrifice made by other nationalities, particularly the Polish and Indian pilots who flew with the RAF in World War Two.

“We want to raise money for the charity but we also want to raise awareness of the huge part played by the aircrew from other countries who helped in our hour of need,” Tony explained.

To support the event or find out more, contact Tony on 07910 174708.  There is also a Round the outside – RAF 100 page on Facebook with a link to a charity fundraising site.