Hackney youth motorcycle team fears closure
PUBLISHED: 15:00 11 April 2015
An iconic motorcycle display charity for youngsters that originated in Hackney more than 45 years ago - and has taught 2,000 children - is now in danger of closing down due to lack of funds.
The Imps, formerly known as the Honda Imps, has performed its death-defying stunts all over the world, including the USA, Jordan and Europe – with more than 100 million people tuning in to their televised performances at international military tattoos.
The 40-strong team had its sponsorship withdrawn a few years ago but now government grant cuts mean it is in more danger.
Former Imp and ardent backer of the charity, Graham Dodridge, 50, has spoken of how important it is to preserve its legacy.
He said: “Children from six-years-old to 16 years old can join the team and it travels all over the world. It’s incredible, and has an incredible, rich heritage of giving children discipline and a good experience beyond their local environment.
“These kinds of organisations inspire and give hope in east London where that is in short supply.”
The charity’s focus on motorcycling originated in the 1970s from the Hackney Adventure Holiday Project – a scheme founded by Roy Pratt that provided holidays in the country for East End youngsters from disadvantaged backgrounds.
During one of these trips, the children found a dysfunctional old motorbike and riding it quickly became the preferred activity of the young people.
Now the organisation hosts an annual open recruitment session for youngsters.
Mr Dodridge said: “I was a watch leader from the age of 11 to 17 and I think I learnt leadership skills which served me well in later life – I founded two companies which have become global marketing agencies so I have the Imps to thank for my good fortune.
The Imps have so far raised £9,000 of their target 36,000 which will help pay for 20 250cc motorcycles.
Mr Dodridge said: “It will be very disappointing if we can’t make it happen so failure is not an option. A number of performer Imps are now beginning rally to the cry but if a knight in shining armour turns up, it would be great.”
“The UK has the highest anxiety in young people and they do feel isolated. The Imps give them something.”
To donate, visit crowdfunder.co.uk/imps-motocycle-display-team-for-young-children.