Watton club helping young motorbike riders

A community club with a difference has been set up in Watton which hopes to keep young motorbike riders safe on the road.

Breckland Young Riders, based at The Surge centre in St Giles Road, was created by Tony Bridges and John Walton with support from the town's safer neighbourhood team (SNT), which provided �500 to help start-up the group.

The weekly club, which is for 16 to 24-year-olds, currently has 14 members who learn about everyday maintenance, first aid and road safety.

Its first meting was just six weeks ago but plans for a group similar to the Breckland Young Riders were discussed just over two years ago.

Sgt Lance Ogbourne, from Watton's SNT, said; 'We struggled to get the interest of young people and didn't have people like Tony and John to capture the enthusiasm of young people.'

Speaking about the club's ethos, he added: 'It revolved around promoting road safety and reducing the number of road casualties and motorcycle related anti-social behaviour, which is a concern in the Watton and Wayland area.

'While all motorcycle riders are at risk of getting injured, younger riders have a higher risk. Older riders will look for safe road plans, as supposed to a younger rider who might ride into a certain situation and find themselves in a difficult or dangerous position.'

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He also said it is hoped that the club might also be used as a form of restorative justice and extended professional judgement - alternatives to financial penalties or court appearances - after a person commits low-level crime, such as driving without due care and attention.

'Experience has told us that education is more important than punishment when it comes to casualty reduction,' said Sgt Ogbourne.

Club members will be able to practice basic maintenance skills in a workshop at The Surge and it is hoped that organised rides will start from next spring.

Breckland Young Riders is run by volunteers and Mr Bridges, 42, from Watton, and Mr Walton, 56, from nearby Ashill, will be one of five qualified motorbike instructors at the club.

Both men are keen riders and say feedback from group members has been positive.

Mr Bridges, a data processor for BAE Systems at RAF Marham, said: 'We have had parents say they are concerned about their children riding because there is a lack of facilities like this where they can be educated.'

Mr Walton, a retired RAF engineer, added: 'The youngsters who come along are very enthusiastic. They like the idea of belonging to a group and like having something to do, instead of hanging around on street corners.'

Club member Jake Everett, 17, from Watton, said: 'I like meeting new people being and being around other bikers. It is a good atmosphere.'

Membership of the club, which take place every Wednesday between 7pm and 9pm, costs �12 for the year and moped riders, scooter riders and motorbike riders can join.

For more information about Breckland Young Riders contact Mr Bridges on 07920062478 or Mr Walton on 07747771942.