My introduction to the Motorcycle Action Group (MAG) was in 1985. It was getting dark and 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 generously proceeded to fix and start the bike.“You should join this,” he said, thrusting a MAG flyer in my hand, before riding off. And I did.
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!’ From the European Parliamentarians’ perspective, 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 it has grown to become a representative voice in local and national government; working directly with politicians and civil servants, it provides input to the Department for Transport’s working parties and, via FEMA (Federation of European Motorcyclists’ Associations), consultation advice to the European Parliament and the UN.
MAG has always relied on its grassroots membership. 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 the 200 strong team of volunteers at the 2016 edition of The Farmyard Party at Duncombe Park in Helmsley, one of MAG’s largest fund-raising events. The history of this event, and of others like it, and the power of the organisation they help fund, are founded on the efforts of motorcycle enthusiasts: students, neighbours, teachers, engineers, nurses…
Ordinary people. You and me.