A touching tribute has been paid to a well-known North East trucker after his unexpected death last month. 

Denis 'Big Den' Nixon, from Spennymoor, passed away unexpectedly on September 4, leaving his family "massively shocked". The family was expecting to celebration his 60th birthday on October 25. 

But the "whole of the trucking community" came together to give the popular driver an appropriate send-off. Dozens of vehicles - including 13 HGV wagons - joined him on his "last ride" to his funeral. 

Big Den's son, also called Denis, said: "He'd been a trucker since 1999, and though I knew he was popular, it was so unexpected to see how many people turned out.

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"The wagon community came together, and for us, the day of his funeral was magical, and we couldn't have asked for a better send-off for him."

Den had worked for Curely Transport Ltd, based in Spennymoor, and driving across the country. At the Nixon family's request, Den was driven to the crematorium on the wagon that he had driven for years.

The Northern Echo: Denis Nixon, 59. Denis Nixon, 59. (Image: The Nixon Family)

His boss, James Curely, lent them the wagon to use for the day, and cousin Terry drove Den on his "final ride", from his Spennymoor home, up the A1, and to Coundon Crematorium.  Along the way, they were joined by a procession of 13 trucks and dozens of mourners in cars. 

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"There were so many people at the funeral that they couldn't shut the doors at the cremation for the service", son Denis explained. 

"We as a family would like to thank each and everyone who was involved that made this happen and to everyone who joined his last ride. 

"Massive thank you to his boss Jamesy for letting us have dad on his wagon that he drove, and everything you have done, you are one in a million."