With Ambition Award winner 2024

Published: 27 May 2024
Steve Freemantle is the winner of the With Ambition Award at the Thanks to You Awards 2024.

'We just want to help others. We just prefer to ride on two wheels instead of four!'

Steve is leaning on a motorbike seat with his legs on the handles. He is holding a teacup in one hand and plate with a cupcake in the other. He appears to be outside an an event.

Shortly after being posted to Cyprus with the RAF in 1992, motorcycle enthusiast Steve was elected as the Chair of the RAF Akrotiri Tri-Service Motorcycle Club for Service personnel and their families. After one of the club’s members was killed by a car in a motorcycle accident, their family asked for donations to Macmillan. This inspired Steve to begin organising an annual motorcycle event on the island to raise further funds for Macmillan in memory of the Club member.

When Steve returned to the UK, his fundraising efforts began to snowball and eventually led to him founding Bikers 4 Macmillan in 2008. Under Steve's leadership, this unique fundraising group has raised £130,000 and impacted the lives of countless families affected by cancer.

The group’s flagship event is the Sunset to Sunrise Tour, a challenging but exhilarating ride that takes place every June. Each year around 100 bikers set off from Holyhead in Wales and ride to Skegness in Lincolnshire – the full width of the UK – in one night, in the dark! They arrive in Skegness in time for the sunrise and a well-earned bacon butty.

"We’re just a group of people who like riding a motorbike across the country, having fun and raising money – but the fact that it's also helping people with cancer is brilliant," explained Steve. "By the time we all arrive in Skegness, everybody is shattered, but the sense of achievement is incredible. So many new friendships are forged during the event, and everyone is always keen to sign up for the next year. It's very pleasing."

The event, which consistently raises a minimum of £10,000, requires a monumental amount of planning, and Steve happily takes it all on. From managing registrations to risk assessments, and from route riding to sorting out safety protocols, Steve covers every last detail to make sure the event always runs smoothly.

On top of the Sunset to Sunrise Tour, Steve constantly devises new fundraising ideas, and one of the group’s most popular is their annual Teddy Bears Picnic. This unique event sees the group of bikers grab their teddy bears and ride to a scenic location for a picnic. Anyone who joins the party without a furry friend has to pay a fine for Macmillan!

"A few years ago, we were having our picnic near a canal in Leicestershire. We were all sitting down on our blankets when a family walked by. Their five-year-old daughter, who was carrying her own teddy bear, spotted us with our teddy bears and she just sat down with us and joined in! Initially, her mother looked horrified to see her with all of us burly bikers!"

In fact, one of the things that Steve is most proud of is the getting the chance to change people’s perceptions about bikers.

"Motorcycling often has a bad reputation, so to be acknowledged by Macmillan for what we’re doing has given us some credibility. The majority of us are normal family people, who just want to help others. We just prefer to ride on two wheels instead of four."

Find out more about the Thanks to You awards.