This Vespa is a celebration of life
Johannesburg - Every bike is an extension of its owner's personality; the stronger that personality and the events that shape it, the stronger the statement it makes.
Leigh Hammond lived a regular Joburg life - working 9 to 5, exercising regularly and spending tine with his family. Then he was diagnosed with stage four cancer, and everything changed.
It took 18 months of gruelling chemotherapy sessions, enforced inactivity and two major surgeries before Hammond went into remission - and he reckons he wouldn't have made it without the steadfast support of family, friends and a medical team that went way beyond the call of duty.
You can never repay that kind of support, he says, but he's determined to show how much he values them by making the most of every moment, for the rest of his life.
"I'd ridden motorbikes before," he explained, "but I didn't know much about Vespas.
"Then a friend who rides showed me his customised scooters and spoke about the camaraderie among Vespa riders, the shared adventure and the individualism they represent.
"And that resonated with how I wanted to experience life more fully. Vespa riders often get together on Friday mornings for breakfast runs and they go on long-distance tours several times a year.
"That was my biggest motivator - getting out there on the open road with like-minded riders. Now I'm planning to take my wife touring in Italy (the home of Vespa) for our 25th wedding anniversary."
As soon as the doctor said he was fit to ride, Hammond bought a GTS 300 Super and set about customising it. The design features handprints from each of his family members, as well as the names of his best friend, his doctors and his housekeeper, Elsie.
"The idea to include all the people who supported me stands as a reminder of how far we've come," he said, "because cancer doesn't just affect you - it completely changes the lives of the people around you as well."