June 9 2011.

Specialist insurance broker Bikesure has stepped in at the 11th hour to save a charity motorcycle rally to the prisoner of war camp made famous in the classic film The Great Escape..

The rally, which aims to raise more than £10,000 for Help for Heroes and the Royal British Legion, was under threat after insurers pulled the plug just a week before seven riders were due to travel across Europe to the infamous Stalag Luft III camp in Poland. But Bikesure agreed to provide cover free of charge for the seven Triumph Bonneville bikes, which set off from the former RAF Biggin Hill airport on Saturday, June 4.

Organiser Peter Spowage, a serving Metropolitan police officer who had spent nearly two years arranging the trip, admitted to bursting into tears when underwriter Robert Balls agreed, in a telephone call on Tuesday, to cover the bikes.

"I started ringing round last Friday, but I was getting the usual 'computer says no' replies, because it's not a standard sort of insurance risk," said Peter, whose father earned the Distinguished Flying Cross for safely landing a fully-loaded Lancaster bomber that was on fire during World War 2.

"I spoke to Bikesure, who actually listened and seemed to understand, but I hardly slept a wink over the bank holiday weekend.

"I have put the past two years of my life into this project and it was in real danger of not going ahead. Then I took that wonderful call from Rob and it was just unbelievable - I'm 54 years of age but I've no problem saying that I burst into tears. Bikesure literally saved the day."

Mr Balls said the broker was delighted to help out, adding: "When we heard that the event would be cancelled after months of planning if the team couldn't get insurance, we pulled out all the stops to make sure these worthy causes wouldn't miss out.

"Our friends at insurers Groupama gave us a very competitive rate and we're happy to cover the cost to help ensure that as much of the funds raised as possible goes to Help for Heroes and the Royal British Legion.

"We think the Great Escape 2 is a fantastic way of raising both money and awareness for the charities and wish the team a safe and enjoyable journey. We only wish we were going!" 

As Peter said, the journey is about much more than seven bikers on a jaunt across Europe. In February this year Private Conrad Lewis, the son of one of the team's sponsors, was killed in action in Afghanistan.

"This is not about me or about the guys riding the bikes, this is about remembering those officers who were killed in the escape, and about Conrad and all the other young men and women who have been killed or injured in the current wars," he added.

The journey will be especially poignant for Colin Kirby-Green, whose father was shot after successfully breaking out of the camp in March 1944. Mr Kirby-Green has never visited his father's grave, and will also visit the town of Hrabuvka in the Czech Republic where his father and fellow escapee, Canadian airman Gordon Kidder, were recaptured and executed.

For more information about the Great Escape 2 visit and to donate visit  

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