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Riding to Success

Not a coffee morning kind of couple, Alison and Henry are soon embarking on an ambitious UK tour on their 1960s scooters, all to raise money for Alzheimer’s Society. Sara Whatley finds out more

It’s an obsession really,” said Framfield based Alison-Marie Bowen when I asked about her scootering life. Just as well Alison and her partner Henry Smith are so obsessed, otherwise their 10-day scooter tour, The Before We Forget Tour to raise money for Alzheimer’s Society, would
be an endurance. As it is, they are both looking forward to it immensely. Already they have started raising money towards their fundraising target of £5000. In February they had a do that raised £663, and they have set up an online auction with some fantastic generous prizes, such as a night’s stay at the East Sussex National and an oil painting to commemorate the tour.

When they are on the tour in August, supportive members of their scootering community are putting on shindigs in the towns they visit.
The tour itself will see Alison, Henry and other team members (Dave and Alex from Weymouth, Dorset) ride 2000 plus miles on 1960s Italian scooters around coastal mainland Britain visiting 28 towns along the way. “The towns that we are visiting were all sites of scooter rallies in the 80s, many of which we have visited before,” said Alison. Henry is particularly looking forward to riding in Scotland but has a fondness for Brighton – the iconic home of the smartly dressed mod. “And I’m looking forward to the West Country,” Alison revealed.

Scooters entered Alison’s life in the late 70s, early 80s, when she started to ride her older brother’s scooter (unbeknownst to him). “We were into the same music, knew the same people, and went to see the same bands, so it was inevitable that I got into scootering too,” said Alison.

As teenagers of the 80s, Alison and Henry were living with the Falklands War, Thatcherism, and the Miner’s Strike, to name but a few events of the decade, but as Alison recalled, music, scooters and people lifted them up and gave them the freedom to have fun. “Scooters were the common denominator to all the fun we had back then,” said Alison.

Her first scooter rally was Morecambe 1982, and from then on, she went to rallies across the UK, Europe and all around the world. “I have friends in many different countries, and I met Henry as part of the scooter scene many years ago, way before we got together,” she said. “For me this tour is all about the people we will meet along the way, and for Henry it’s about the ride.”

They have chosen August for this event as it is the 40th anniversary of Henry getting his first Lambretta (Alison admitted that together they have many, many scooters) and they have chosen to fundraise for Alzheimer’s Society because it is especially close to Henry’s heart. “Henry’s mother Joan lived with Alzheimer’s before she passed away in the summer of 2021. Henry said it was like losing his mum twice as her  condition took away her ability to put things into context; a photo of four-year-old Henry brought her to life but she had no idea who the 56-year-old  man standing in front of her was.”

Alzheimer’s Society supported the family at the time and are also very encouraging of Alison and Henry’s fundraising event. “The support we have received has been amazing, from everyone,” beamed Alison. “But there is always room for more! We want to invite local scooterists to come ride with us, join us for events, visit our website and find out how they can get involved and support us.”

A spokesperson from Alzheimer’s Society said, “Alzheimer’s Society aims to end the devastation caused by dementia, providing help and hope for everyone affected. The Charity offer a host of support in Sussex, you can find what activities are happening near you by using the online tool on their website.

So, polish up your chrome, hop on your scooter and join The Before We Forget Tour for a trip down memory lane and a lot of laughs along the way.


For more details and to donate visit:

You can also find help and support from Alzheimers Society below:

Support line: 0333 150 3456





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