RNLI fundraiser reaches finish line after epic 8,000-mile vintage motorbike ride
Harry Bott and his 96-year-old vintage motorbike are set to reach the final stop on his epic fundraising journey after visiting every single RNLI lifeboat station.
Harry, 23, will ride into Southend-on-Sea on Saturday to tick off his 238th lifeboat station in a challenge that has seen him cover roughly 8,000 miles of the British and Irish coastline.
His gruelling road trip began on April 6 this year on his Sunbeam Model 1 motorcycle that used to belong to his great-grandad and has taken him through England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland and the Channel Islands.
The intrepid fundraiser said he feels lucky to have picked the driest summer in his lifetime to complete the ride, and says it feels strange to finally be reaching journey’s end.
‘It’s a weird feeling knowing that it will soon all be over. It’s a bit against the odds but I’ve seen the entire British coastline,’ said Harry, who has been welcomed by the volunteer lifeboat crews at many of the stations he has visited.
The mechanical engineering graduate had the chance to put his skills to the test, tinkering with the bike’s engine to keep himself on the road.
‘I’ve been lucky with the weather, and the bike, with only one major fix and a few minor tweaks along the way,’ he said.
For six months, he has battled the changeable British weather – at times reducing the bike’s top speed of 45mph to just 20mph – and the unpredictability of riding a vintage bike, in which time he has raised nearly £7,000 for the charity that saves lives at sea.
Harry said: ‘It’s pretty amazing, and a lot more than I thought I would raise – my original target was £4,000, so I’ve had to raise that target along the way.
‘I love sailing and enjoying the coast and it’s great to know the RNLI are there to help if someone gets into trouble, and as they’re entirely reliant on donations, I felt it was an important charity to give back to.’
RNLI Fundraising Director Jayne George said: ‘Harry’s fundraising journey has been a truly remarkable adventure and his commitment to raising funds for our mission is unquestionable.
‘Fundraisers like Harry are the lifeblood of the RNLI, the money they raise powers our rescues on beaches and from lifeboat stations – every one is a lifesaver.
‘Harry has earned his place in our fundraising crew. Welcome aboard Harry.'
Harry was inspired to embark on the trek after he and his dad restored his great grandad’s motorcycle, bought in the 1930s and kept in the family ever since.
His great-grandad bought the bike in the 1930s and used it to commute to his job as a shipping agent in Falmouth until the 1950s when it was stored in a barn where it remained for 67 years.
Harry can be supported via his Facebook page: www.justgiving.com/fundraising/harry-bott
Key facts about the RNLI
The RNLI charity saves lives at sea. Its volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service around the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland coasts. The RNLI operates 238 lifeboat stations in the UK and Ireland and more than 240 lifeguard units on beaches around the UK and Channel Islands. The RNLI is independent of Coastguard and government and depends on voluntary donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service. Since the RNLI was founded in 1824, its lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved over 142,700 lives.
Learn more about the RNLI
For more information please visit the RNLI website or Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. News releases, videos and photos are available on the News Centre.
Contacting the RNLI - public enquiries
Members of the public may contact the RNLI on 0300 300 9990 (UK) or 1800 991802 (Ireland) or by email.