Party people

Richard Glynn’s portraits pay tribute to the grassroots activists who lobby for bikers’ rights

Farmyard Party Portraits 2016

Farmyard Party Portraits 2016

It was 1985, it was getting dark. I was stuck in in the middle of an East London housing estate wondering what to do about the lifeless motorcycle in front of me so I could get home. “Problem?” asked the passing stranger, who then proceeded to fix and start the bike.“You should join this,” he said, thrusting a flyer in my hand before riding off.

This was my introduction to the Motorcycle Action Group (MAG). Then, one evening in the late 1990s, I wandered into one of my locals in Darlington and, as I squeezed through the crowd to the bar, bumped into north east MEP Stephen Hughes. Suddenly I was being enthusiastically introduced to the large group of European MPs he was with as “one of the bikers!” As far as I was concerned, I was one of the many thousands of MAG members who had protested against the imposition of restrictions on motorbikes on the basis of supposition rather than facts. From the European Parliamentarians’ perspective though, I was a representative of the mass lobbying – by ordinary people, rather than trade organisations or corporations – that had enabled a major change in their relationship with the European Commission.

MAG is a national independent volunteer-led riders’ rights organisation that has been campaigning to promote motorcycling and protect the interests of all riders since 1973. Its membership is drawn from all walks of life and has grown to become a representative voice in local and national government.They actively lobby locally, regionally and, with the unpaid work they contribute to rallies around the country, attended by many thousands of motorcycle riders, help raise the core funds the organisation needs to lobby at UK and EU parliamentary level. These portraits are of just a few of this year’s 200-strong team of volunteers at the 30th anniversary of The Farmyard Party at Duncombe Park in Helmsley, one of MAG’s biggest fundraising events. The history of this event, and of others like it, and the power of the organisation they help fund, is founded on the efforts of motorcycle enthusiasts – students, neighbours, teachers, engineers, nurses – ordinary people. You and me.


Read more in The Northern Correspondent #9