Grieving father of Malachi Mitchell-Thomas quells row over tributes
The grieving father of road racing star Malachi Mitchell-Thomas, who died after crashing at the North West 200 on Saturday, has helped quell a row over the removal of floral tributes to his late son.
An impromptu shrine in memory of Malachi had sprung up at the spot where the 20-year-old was killed.
Road racing fans, touched by the quiet dignity of the tragic rider's father Kevin Thomas in the wake of the devastating accident, have expressed fury at the removal of the tributes.
But Bolton-based Mr Thomas posted a message online urging the road racing community not to make an issue of it.
He wrote: "Please nobody get upset on my behalf. I understand why they moved them and I'm quite happy about it."
Mr Thomas visited the scene the day after the 110mph crash that claimed Malachi's life on May 14.
Despite frantic efforts to save him, the up-and-coming English rider - who was racing at the famous Triangle course for the first time - passed away on the north coast track after losing control of his Supertwin machine.
In the aftermath of the fatal accident, the spot was marked by an array of floral tributes, one of which said 'RIP Malachi, you were a breath of fresh air in the paddock'. An explanation for the subsequent removal of the flowers, which sparked outrage among supporters, appeared on the International North West 200's official Facebook site.
It read: "Due to road safety concerns the flowers left in tribute for Malachi Mitchell-Thomas have had to be removed from the scene of his accident.
"Club members have carefully moved them to the entrance to the start/finish chicane where they can be viewed in safety. Edited to say that the club were asked to remove the flowers."
Following Mr Thomas's dignified response, asking people not to become distressed over the flowers, the social media site was inundated with messages of support for the grieving father.
Ernie Millican wrote: "Sorry, did get upset about it, respect to you and your boy, we won't forget him."
Marcus Leslie said: "I love road racing and your son made it so much better, will miss him, it doesn't seem real that he is gone. Thoughts are with you all Kevin rip MMT."
And Debbie Delahunty-Donnelly added: "Thoughts are with you Kevin, your family, friends and the team, what a great boy, pleasure to have watched him race x"