Belfast Telegraph

Crash victim James Campbell laid to rest alongside autograph from sporting hero Guy Martin

By Allan Preston

The final wish of a young motorsport fan from Co Down was granted yesterday at his funeral as an autograph from his sporting hero Guy Martin was placed on his coffin.

James Campbell (21) died last Wednesday afternoon after his motorcycle collided with a tractor just yards from his family home on the Ballymacanallen Road near Gilford.

His motorcycle was displaying learner driver plates at the time of the crash.

Yesterday, more than 500 mourners packed St Patrick and St Colman’s Church in Laurencetown near Banbridge to pay tribute.

During the service, they heard that he had been hoping to get an autograph from his motor sport hero Guy Martin at the Tandragee 100 on the weekend just before his death.

Parish Priest, Canon Gerry Powell, told the congregation Mr Campbell was “an extremely generous young man who had a very charming and happy character”.

“His last post on Facebook was to say he would go to watch the racing and get an autograph,” he said.

“He may not have been able to attend Tandragee but part of his wish was fulfilled as Guy Martin signed a photograph of James which has been placed in his coffin that he can take with him.”

A former pupil at St Patrick’s College in Banbridge, he had been working as a labourer and “loved fixing and tinkering with engines and machines,” having completed his Level 2 Light Vehicle Mechanics certificate.

He was the youngest son of Christine and Martin Campbell and brother to Martin, Connor and Sinead.

The congregation heard that, although James had a quiet nature, his presence was known through his many interests.

“He had a weird taste of music ranging from the thumping beats of rap music to the country pop of the Dixie Chicks,” said Canon Powell.

“He frequented a party with his friends where they all picked their favourite tunes. They all passed the phone around picking various rap tunes. It came to James’ turn and he amused the rest of his friends by picking his favourite Dixie Chicks tune.”

With a passion for watching motorbike races, he had bought a scrambler for use in fields near his home. He had been rebuilding it with his brother Connor, with the two spending many happy hours in the shed which they affectionately called ‘the office’.

Mr Campbell would regularly be out for walks with his much loved dog, an Akita named Biggie after the rapper Biggie Smalls.

Known for taking pride in his appearance, the church also heard how “he got up every morning and hogged the bathroom regularly making Sinead late for work”.

Canon Powell added that Mr Campbell would be remembered as: “A loving son and brother and will be greatly missed by all his family and friends.”

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