THE Mayor of Henley rode more than 60 miles on the back of a motorcycle to deliver Christmas presents to sick children.
Lorraine Hillier sat behind fellow town councillor David Eggleton, who was dressed as Santa, as they travelled to the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford on his Triumph Bonneville.
They were followed on BMW bikes by Cllr Eggleton?s friends Dave Urwin, Mike Prior and Peter Clark, with whom he grew up on the Gainsborough estate in Henley.
Accompanying them in a car carrying the toys were Rachel Moffatt and Paula Isaac, both member of the Gainsborough Residents? Association, and Cllr Eggleton?s daughter Lily.
The gifts were donated by pupils of Valley Road, Sacred Heart and Badgemore primary schools and a number of residents. The Helen and Douglas House charity shop in Duke Street gave a bag of cuddly toys.
When the group arrived, hospital staff helped them unload the goods into cage trolleys. They then walked around the children?s ward greeting youngsters and letting them each choose a present.
Cllr Eggleton, who organised the first Santa toy run last year, said: ?It was a brilliant day and we?re really grateful for all the donations. It wouldn?t have been possible without help from so many people. We put the toys in the car because we weren?t sure what the weather would be like. The boot was absolutely crammed with stuff for all ages, from babies to teenagers.
?The journey there was funny because two of the others had identical bikes and it looked like Santa had his own escort. Loads of people were waving from the roadside.
?It was quite a moving experience to give the toys out. The smiles on the children?s faces were incredible when they saw us. There was one youngster who was pretty poorly but his eyes lit up when he saw something he liked. We?ll definitely do it again next year.
?I invited Lorraine to ride on my bike as a joke because I know she used to ride. I didn?t think she?d be up for it!
?She?s the best passenger I?ve had. She knew how to shift her weight going round corners and was so quiet that I kept looking back to check she was still there.?
Cllr Hillier started riding at the age of 25 after failing her driving test a number of times. She rode a Yamaha 125cc model for about seven years before getting her driver?s licence.
She wore her own leather trousers, jacket and boots but borrowed a helmet from Cllr Eggleton.
She said: ?I really enjoyed it. David is a very safe driver and got me there in one piece.
?It took me back to the days when I was a packaging artist for George Bassett in Sheffield. I used to wrap all my riding kit in a hot water bottle before I set off because we didn?t have luxuries like heated handlebars in those days.
?I was very sad to give it up and this has made me want to take it up again.?