Bikers to remember murdered soldier

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Bikers from across the UK and abroad will lead tributes to murdered soldier Lee Rigby today , a year after he was hacked to death by two Islamist fanatics.

The riders, including current and former British military personnel, will gather in Greenwich in south east London before travelling to Woolwich Barracks, where Fusilier Rigby was stationed, for a memorial service.

It will be led by the Rector of Woolwich, Reverend Jesse van der Valk, and will include a message written by the young serviceman’s mother, Lyn Rigby.

Organiser Julia Stevenson, who will read Mrs Rigby’s words, said: “The Lee Rigby ride is about a single soldier, brutally cut down not on the battlefield but on the streets of London.

“In the act of riding through Woolwich on the anniversary of his death we are expressing the admiration and respect we all share for our armed forces.

“As we ride we will remember Lee, and our thoughts will be for his family at this difficult time, and his regiment. We will proudly represent a nation who was moved by this tragedy by riding as one.”

Fusilier Rigby’s brutal murder sparked shock across the country after he was run over in a car and then hacked to death by British Muslim converts Michael Adebolajo and Michael Adebowale on May 22 last year.

The 25-year-old father-of-one, who had previously served in Afghanistan, was stationed in Woolwich, working as a recruitment officer, when he died, and also performed duties at his regiment’s headquarters at the Tower of London.

A lead group of bikers plan to ride from Greenwich Park, past the scene of the murder and up to the barracks’ parade ground, from where they will march to the main gates, where the ceremony will be held.

The rest of the bikers will ride past the barracks as the memorial event takes place.

Mr van der Valk is expected to say: “Let us dedicate ourselves to always remember our friend and brother and loved one and soldier, Drummer Lee Rigby, whose life was cruelly taken away in this place in the service of his country.”

A wreath will be laid and the Last Post played, and a group of Sikh drummers will perform.

Supporters are expected to travel from around the UK as well as Germany, Belgium and France. No official event is planned at the barracks itself, or on behalf of the Ministry of Defence.

Adebolajo was told he will spend the rest of his life behind bars while Adebowale was given a minimum jail term of 45 years for the horrifying attack.

Mr van der Valk said: “A year ago people were totally shocked, angry and upset about what had happened and obviously they wanted justice to take its course, which it has done.

“Today will be remembering Lee Rigby himself. Lee Rigby was a young person, he was a member of the armed services, but what happened to him seemed random.

“We want to celebrate and give thanks for his life and show that Lee Rigby will not be forgotten and what happened to him won’t be forgotten.

“It’s an opportunity for us to stand alongsige Lee Rigby and the other members of the armed services, and his family and friends.”

The clergyman backed calls for a permanent memorial to the young soldier in Woolwich, which has so far been rejected by the local authority.

The Royal Borough of Greenwich said it had been told by the Army that the Rigby family did not want a permanent memorial in Woolwich, while local Labour MP Nick Raynsford claimed it could attract extremists.

Mr van der Valk said: “I know that many people in the community feel there should be a memorial for Lee Rigby.

“It wouldn’t attract right-wing extremists, it would just give an opportunity to show that we haven’t forgotten Lee Rigby and we want to remember him.

“This is probably the worst event in the history of Woolwich but at the same time we do want to remember Lee Rigby.”

He said he felt “disappointed” that the three women who confronted Fusilier Rigby’s killers, dubbed the Angels of Woolwich, have not received George Medals for their bravery.

“People who acted positively on the day and with courage and compassion for Lee Rigby should be recognised,” the community leader said.

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