Over the years the events we have been holding, Star bikers charity events along with the unique & highly spectacular charity motorcycle runs at Easter & Christmas time in Stoke on Trent we have helped to raise & in-turn distribute around £330,000 worth of donations to local charity organisations as well as donating countless Easter eggs & gifts to underprivileged children & local charity groups.
How it all began:-
As explained by former Egg & Toy runs committee group chairperson Kevin Harper.
Kevin is still the active Star Bikers club chairman.
The very first Toy run in Stoke on Trent (in fact the first in the UK) was held on December 18th 1978. This run ran from Hanley Forest Park to Penkhull homes. Following the success of the first toy run, an egg run was organised for the following year. At this point no one knew that the event was to grow to be as big a success as it eventually turned out.
The format of the run is quite a simple one. It is a parade of bikes followed by a fund raising event at the end. The parade of bikes has started from various points over the years with the current venue being Britannia Stadium Car Park. The reason for this venue is that it is just off the A50 making access easy for people from outside the area. The route of the run has changed many times during the years with an array of start and finish points. For many years now we have settled on Kings Hall in Stoke as a finishing point as it has a large capacity parking facilities and a large hall.
For many years the event at the end of the run consisted of a concert by a rock band, but as time went on, tastes began to change and after a couple of loss making events, we were forced to change with them. Anybody that went to the early runs would not recognise the events of today. Gone are the loud bands and wet T-shirt competitions to be replaced by trade stalls, static displays, face painting (not just for kids) and a disco catering for a wide variety of musical tastes. We have still kept some of the old favourites such as the best bike competitions, but have reduced the overall volume of music so you can chat to old friends over a drink.
Until very recently the runs have been organised by Star Bikers, a local bike club that has been based in the City since the Seventies. Due to dwindling membership numbers, the club asked for help in organising the 22nd Toy Run. Help came from two sources. The first was from Puppy Stranglers (no, they don’t) or the PS as they are also known, a club that had helped with the running before. In fact there are quite a few ex-Star members in Puppy Stranglers. The second source of help came from the Blue Knights, an international police based bike club. The police had been helping out for years in one capacity or another. You can’t get five thousand bikers around an 18 mile route without some help from the police. With this loose alliance of clubs, the event was a success. It was decided that a committee, comprised of two members of each club, would be formed to run all future events.
How it all began:-
As explained by Ian Maddock (webmaster)
The very 1st UK Toy run was as we said above held back in 1978 & held in Stoke on Trent, it followed a more simple route than today’s run going from Hanley Forest Park to “Penkhull Homes” to deliver Children’s toys in time for Christmas. Money was raised as an extra bonus & bought some much needed utilities for the homes. Due to the success of the Toy run it was decided that an Egg Run would follow & the 1st ever UK egg run took place at Easter the following year.
It was all started from basically a joint idea between 2 bike clubs which both clubs used to meet at the Star in Hanley, Stoke on Trent. The then Stoke Harley Davidson riders club conceived the original idea to hold the event & then they involved the Star bikers club as interest grew. The idea to start off that very 1st run – the very 1st of it’s kind ever in the UK – was following the idea which came from what they had seen based on one of the already established US toy run’s which at the time was reported to have attracted over 25,000 riders & the Harley riders club thought that they could do it in the UK & in turn, in the Stoke on Trent area. A smaller crowd of around 50 was expected on the very first UK / Stoke on Trent run but on the day it is rumoured anywhere between 200 – 500 bikes showed up – one of the people who helped organise the 1st event assures me there were about 200. After the event – once the presents had been delivered to the homes – many of the bikers attended the Star pub after the event & a great nationally historic biking event & a new local tradition was born.
Nowadays of course the modern day event follows the exact same tradition of that very 1st run only the run now ends at the Kings Hall in Stoke on Trent simply because the event has got so big. All the donated presents & Easter eggs are still donated to lots of charities by social services as they were on that very 1st event. Also the money raised is separated out to chosen worthy causes after each run. Only the route itself & the way the event is promoted is only what has been changed in all honesty, simply to accommodate for the ever growing number of bikers or supporters that attend. The Penkhull homes area is now just a quiet rural street & the homes services have been transferred to hospitals & hostels in the area but the basic tradition of that very 1st Toy run has remained the same over the following 30 years & beyond.
In previous years the run has started from not only Hanley forest park but also Chatterley Whitfield museum, Michelin in Stoke, Festival Park, Broadway Traffic lights in Meir (on the new A50), The Kings Hall itself & Staffordshire tableware’s factory on Meir Park as well as it’s present start point of The Britannia Stadium. It has ended in a few different places as well over the years.
Many bike clubs have tried to copy & follow the example – Including a similar run in the area (the Stoke “pet food run” held each summer). Both Stoke’s Toy & Egg Run’s are now not only the first of their kind in the UK but also we hold a proud claim to be probably the biggest 1 day (OK 2 if you count the separate runs) event of their kind in the UK. There are many people from outside the local area who also attend the run & we have also been known to attract some visitors from overseas. These events are now traditionally as popular locally as the “North Staffordshire Oatcake” or “Owd Grandad Piggott” We are also proud to say that the National Egg & Toy run format has been copied from the Stoke run & other people have adopted the Star Bikers methods when holding their own runs in their own home city
Don’t forget you don’t have to have a bike to get involved… you are very welcome to attend the Kings Hall or the Britannia Stadium on the day to see all the bikes & the riders. You can even consider becoming a volunteer & helping us on the day of the events. It is a great atmosphere just to watch from the roadside as well as the parade passes.
Star Bikers – the 21st century
The original Star bikers club has now been disbanded into other local bike clubs, although the club of today is no longer strictly a club, but is now what started out as & still comprises of a committee group of members from each of the other clubs which the original star bikers club was disbanded into. The Star Bikers club & the Stoke on Trent bikers are comprised of the same team of individuals but are run separately with members doing different roles. We still meet regularly but we are maybe not quite the same idea of the the MCC you may of been involved with back in the 70′s & 80′s when the club was at it’s peak.
Toy run picture from Stevie Nix. Toy Run 82.
We meet each week to discuss plans for the Egg & Toy run events all throughout the year in preparation for not just the next run we organise but all future events & deciding who benefits from the charity.
The Star – Then & Now
(taken from the Sentinel Saturday, October 04, 2008)
THE Star pub in Marsh Street North, Hanley, is now a B&B called the Star Hotel. The first picture shows the hostelry as it was in 1984. The pub’s name can be seen on the side of the building, below an Ansell’s sign. The idea for the original Star Bikers Toy Run was conceived at the pub, with the first event taking place in 1978, when gifts were collected and handed out to needy children. Since then, the toy run has become an annual event and its usual starting point is now the Britannia Stadium car park. The building to the right of the pub, with a sign that appears to read ‘Prestige Car Valeting’, has now been demolished. The new photograph also reveals that the Star Hotel is now up for sale.
Do you have any memories of the Star pub in Hanley or the toy run? Write to Colette Warbrook, including a contact telephone number and address, at Features Desk, The Sentinel, Forge Lane, Etruria, Stoke-on-Trent, ST1 5SS, or email firstname.lastname@example.org
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