DEVASTATED friends and family have paid tribute to a lifelong motorbike fanatic who was killed in a road accident at the weekend.
Arthur Lofthouse, 67, of Hygiene, Clayton-le-Moors, died from multiple injuries after he lost control of his machine in Teesdale, County Durham, on Sunday afternoon.
It is the second motorbike tragedy to hit the family, who were left reeling seven years ago when Mr Lofthouse's son, Michael, was killed during a practice session at the Isle of Man TT Races.
The 28-year-old motorbike ace, who lived in Oswaldtwistle, had scooped a clutch of awards during his nine-year racing career, including the British Champion title.
This week, Mr Lofthouse's other son, John, said his father had been intending to sell his motorbike and concentrate on his other hobbies, including fishing and shooting.
He said: "He was just over in Teesdale with a friend, riding his bike like he always did. He was larger than life and he went out the way he would have chosen.
"We are all in shock and trying to cope with it as best we can. There isn't anything else we can say about it."
Councillor Janet Storey, a neighbour of Mr Lofthouse, said: "He went out living life to the maximum, doing something he loved.
"I saw him every day and he was always on his bikes. I am sure that even if he was intending to give up his bike, he would have been doing something else. He kept very active.
"I was absolutely stunned when I heard the news. You just don't expect it."
Councillor Tim O'Kane, a close friend of the family, added: "This has come as a shock to the whole community. He was a very well-known local character."
A spokesperson for Durham Constabulary said: "The rider was travelling along a straight section of road and appears to have hit a minor bump in the road.
"He lost control of the machine and hit a stone wall, suffering multiple injuries as a result. He was pronounced dead at the scene."
Mr Lofthouse leaves family including four daughters, Lesley, 46, Jacqui, 44, Tracey, 42, and Terri, 35, son John, 40, and four grandchildren.
An inquest into the death was due to be opened today at Bishop Auckland Magistrates Court, County Durham, and Mr Lofthouse's funeral will be held at Accrington Crematorium next Wednesday afternoon.