BIKERS took over the streets yesterday as they said their final goodbyes to veteran motorcyclist, Red Beard.

A three-deep cortge of motorbikes followed the coffin of Alan Pearson to St Mark's Church in Eldon near Bishop Auckland, County Durham, and dozens more lined outside.

Alan Pearson, of Coundon, died on February 25 from what is believed to be a heart attack.

Known by his close friends as Red Beard because of his long red beard, he changed his name by deed poll a few years ago.

Close friend Kevin Dinsley, 39, said: "Alan was a big gentle giant.

"He looked intimidating, but he would do anything for anybody.

"He always had a grin on his face, he really will be sorely missed."

So many bikers turned up that many were unable to fit in the small church for the service.

After the ceremony, the congregation followed the hearse to Rosemount Cemetery, in South Church.

Alan, who turned 49 on February 28, was married to Margaret. He was one of five brothers, and grew up in Gurney Valley, in County Durham, with parents Marjorie and John.

Kevin said: "Alan was into bikes as a child. His dad was into bikes, and Alan grew up to be one of the most popular bikers up here. A lot of people will miss him unbelievably, from all four corners of the country."

The Northern Echo attended the funeral at the request of the family.