The devastated family of a motorbike enthusiast have paid tribute after he died in a crash with a car in France on his way to a bike rally.
Popular grandad Paul Cheney, 59, from Seaton Carew, was riding a classic motorbike to the event just outside Dijon with friends when he was involved in a head-on collision and died at the scene.
He loved his bikes and he loved peopleKaren Cheney
Paul’s family described him as “a big man with an even bigger heart” who would do anything for anyone.
The tragedy comes just weeks after Paul, who has three grandaughters, had been told he was set to have a grandson.
The married dad-of-three was involved in the collision only 10 miles from his destination on Friday, May 20.
Paul’s wife Karen Cheney said: “On Friday, I got a message from him to say he was 184 miles outside of Paris, the weather was cold and damp but he was enjoying it.
“That was about 10.30am our time and I never heard from him again. I was fully expecting next to see a picture of about a thousand bikes and him with his thumbs up.”
It was set to be Paul’s first time at the The Coupes Moto Légende held annually at the Prenois Race Circuit about 20km north of Dijon which attracts up to 30,000 spectators and participants from all over Europe.
He got his first bike when he was 18 and had over 40 years’ of riding experience.
Karen said: “He loved his bikes and he loved people. He was a big man with an even bigger heart.
“His pride and joy was to be on the drive cleaning, taking them to bits, making sure everything was running and talking to people.”
Paul, who was also a keen golfer, took voluntary redundancy from Huntsman Tioxide after 32 years last September so that he could enjoy more motorbike and car rallies.
Karen added: “He would be there for everybody, if any of his friends rang and said something had happened he was the first there.
“When a friend had a heart attack while biking in Spain he was the first one to go and see his wife. He offered to drive to Spain to bring his bike back so it was one less thing for her to worry about.
“He was just that type of person.”
Describing the overwhelming support the family has received from friends and former colleagues Karen said: “It has been absolutely unbelievable. Friends have said they will help to get Paul home if we need it.”
And she said their three daughters Joanne, 37, Patricia, 33, and Katherine, 31, had been a rock to her.
The family are waiting for news from France of when they can bring Paul home for his funeral.