Police launch bikesafe on 25th anniversary of bike legend Mike Hailwood's death

14 March 2006

Warwickshire Police and the widow of legendary motorcycle racer and Formula 1 driver Mike Hailwood are jointly launching ?Bikesafe' during a commemorative motorbike run this Sunday, 19 March to mark the 25th anniversary of the tragic death of Mike and his 9 year old daughter Michelle.

Mike Hailwood and Michelle died as a result of a road crash on the A435 Alcester Road at Portway, Warwickshire, on 21 March 1981.

Starting at 11.20am on Sunday 19 March at the former Norton factory (now T.A.Savery Ltd) at Bracebridge Street, Aston, Birmingham, a cavalcade of motorcycles will travel via the Alcester Road at Portway to the village Church at Tanworth in Arden, where Mike and Michelle are buried. A 30 minute memorial service will commence at 1pm at the end of which ?bikesafe' will be officially launched. Bikesafe is a nationwide plan of action to reduce the number of motorcycle accident casualties by promoting safer riding.

Actively supporting the Police at the Bikesafe launch will be Mike's widow Pauline Hailwood who says

"In all the years of watching Mike race and being afraid of him getting hurt, I never imagined I would lose him and our little daughter in a road accident. Mike was actively involved in promoting road safety to motorcyclists when we lived in New Zealand, even producing a guide for new riders, so I am glad to be supporting Warwickshire Police in this launch. It's a perfect opportunity to say something which might save a life."

Saving lives is indeed what the Bikesafe workshops are all about, for whilst motorcyclists represent only about 1% of road users they also represent a wholly disproportionate 20% of all fatal and seriously injured road casualties. PC Ian Tatton the Bikesafe co-ordinator for Warwickshire Police says,

"Bikesafe workshops are run nationwide and are aimed at ?bridging the gap' . By that I mean increasing riders awareness of hazards and giving them a realistic assessment of their own skill level and training needs with a view to creating within them a genuine desire to improve their own riding skills with a recognised training body such as ROSPA or the IAM."

Joanne Clarke a young mother of two whose partner Gary died in a motorcycle crash near Ullenhall in 2004 is also fully supporting the Bikesafe launch. Speaking from her home in Redditch, Joanne said,

"Gary was my soulmate, the one true love of my life. He was never one to normally take risks. He always wore the best protective clothing and equipment, and criticised those he saw riding in jeans and T shirts. He stuck rigidly to speed limits in the built up areas and even had some track experience to increase his awareness of his bike's handling and his own riding capabilities. Yet despite all of this he still lost control of his bike on a dry public road and died before he and his baby son Ryan could really get to know each other. Our roads are far more dangerous than the racetracks and maybe if Gary had received some advanced road based training he would still be here today. I don't want anyone else going through what we've endured and if I can help in saving even one life then my time has not been wasted."

The National Motorcycle Museum is kindly lending the Police one of Mike Hailwood's former race bikes for the day, a BSA Rocket 3 which he once rode in Daytona.

South Warwickshire's Roads Policing Unit Inspector John Timmis is really grateful for this support and hopes the event will win a few hearts and minds within a particular section of the motorcycling community.

He said "Each year we run Bikesafe we always hope we can attract more Sports bike riders to attend our workshops and to seek out more advanced road training, but alas all too often they believe the skills they've honed on a track day will be sufficient. Race tracks may well have a value in enabling riders to let off steam and to improve their techniques and indeed the very reason they are so popular is because they don't have hidden junctions, mud and diesel spillages or traffic coming the other way, which makes them very safe. Public roads by contrast are extremely hazardous places and if you are going to make them your playground then you need to improve your skill level accordingly.

"I thank the National Motorcycle museum for their generous help and am extremely grateful to both Pauline Hailwood and Joanne Clarke for supporting us with the launch. I hope that their presence may help us to reach a target audience that has eluded us for so long. If we succeed then we have made some significant progress towards our aim of making Warwickshire the safest place to be."

The Mike Hailwood memorial run is organised annually by motorcyclist Jon Price. All motorcyclists are welcome to join the run and further details can be obtained from the motorcycling press or from the ?Made in Birmingham' website.

Warwickshire Police will be assisting with the marshalling of this cavalcade into Tanworth in Arden village

Further details of Bikesafe events can be found on the website www.Bikesafe.co.uk

PHOTO OPPORTUNITIES: The riders are due to start moving off at 11.20am on Sunday 19 March from the former Norton factory (now T.A.Savery Ltd) at Bracebridge Street, Aston, Birmingham

The cavalcade of motorcycles will travel via the Alcester Road at Portway to the village Church at Tanworth in Arden, arriving in good time for a service at 1pm. One of Mike Hailwood's former race bikes, a BSA Rocket 3 which he once rode in Daytona will be on display in the church.

INTERVIEW OPPORTUNITIES: Please contact the press office on 01926 415746 or 415065 to arrange an interview with Bikesafe Coordinator, PC Ian Tatton, or Joanne Clarke a young mother of two whose partner Gary died in a motorcycle crash

Crimestoppers - 0800 555 111 working in partnership with the police

Hazel Nicholas