THE usually serene and sedate surroundings of Durham Crematorium was filled with the revving of engines as the biking community came together to send off one of their own.

Hundreds of motorcyclists joined members of John Woodhead’s family and friends to pay their last respects to the 74-year-old.

The great-grandfather died when his Suzuki 600cc collided with a roadside barrier on the A167, just south of Durham, on September 30.

This afternoon, he made his final ride from his home in Cookson Terrace, Chester-le-Street, on a Harley-Davidson glide hearse and was carried into the crematorium to The Wanderer, by Dion.

Eileen Osbourne, the family celebrant, who led the service, said: “Woody was, in the words of his family, outgoing and fun-loving. Someone who behaved as if he as 74 going on 21, someone who enjoyed life.

“Today, we honour that young at heart, fun-loving man, we celebrate his life, which was so cruelly cut short.”

Mr Woodhead, one of eight children, was born in Fencehouses, and during his working life was a miner, labourer and gamekeeper.

He was married to Mavis, with whom he had five daughters, 11 grandchildren and ten great-grandchildren, but she died after becoming ill and in the last two years he had found love again with a new partner, Sharon.

Mrs Osbourne said: “Biking was his passion, his great love. Riding his motorbike, going to bike rallies, socialising with family and friends, these were the things he loved doing.”

During the service the congregation took time to remember their memories of Woody to Don’t Stop Me Now by Queen and left to a song that was said to sum him up, Young at Heart by The Bluebells

After the service his family and friends met at GW Horners in Chester-le-Street, to celebrate his life.

Mr Woodhead was a member of the North-East Bikers Against Bullies and died shortly after joining the group to visit a vulnerable young man who had been experiencing problems.

He was also part of a group of 150 bikers who escorted a teenager to her prom night at Lumley Castle in Chester-le-Street.

Group spokesman Grant Robson said: “On the day he died over 300 bikers had been involved in the event so when I heard a biker had gone down I had a feeling it had to be one of ours. Obviously I did not know it was John.”

Since the accident members of the biking group raised more than £1,000 to help pay for the Harley-Davidson hearse.

Mr Robson, 42, who is also from the town said, he planned to visit Mr Woodhead in the days after he died to drop off a group t-shirt he had just ordered.

Mr Robson said: “He used to be part of all of our rides, pretty much since it started so he been involved from day one. He was a guy that would help anyone and was well known in Chester-le-Street. Something like this affects the biking community quite badly.

“It is like losing one of your brothers.”