Belfast Telegraph

Motorcycle world united for tribute to heroic doctor John Hinds

By David Young

A thousand mourners - motorcyclists, medics and friends - in a cavalcade of grief for a racing doctor who died in the line of duty.

'Racing doctor' John Hinds had saved many lives at motorcycle races before he lost his own at one of the events he loved so much.

Dr Hinds died tragically in a crash at an event last week, but as the cortege of bikes, cars and mourners stretched out along the roads heading to his home, it was clear he will not be forgotten.

They were led off by Dr Hind's heartbroken partner Dr Janet Acheson, a pillion passenger on the back of a bike driven by Dr Fred McSorley - Ireland's only other volunteer medic for motorcycle road races.

They formed up at Castlebellingham, Co Louth, to accompany the hearse as it brought the body of the respected and popular medic home to Tandragee.

They rode north through torrential rain to the Co Armagh town, where the hearse and its huge biker cortege made a valedictory lap of the Tandragee 100 circuit Dr Hinds had toured so many times.

Route marshals proudly held white flags as the cortege made its way around the race circuit in tribute to their friend and colleague.

The bikers came from all over Ireland, and were joined by medical vehicles from as far away as Wicklow as they paid their respects to their fallen hero.

Among the hundreds of people who had lined the route at Tandragee, there were many wiping away tears as the cortege passed along the narrow country lane. There was still a palpable sense of shock among those who had come to pay tribute.

Motorcycle Union of Ireland marshal Dereck Watt said: "John was the best of fellows. We still can hardly believe he's gone.

"It was just a freak accident. None of us can understand how it happened. He used to race himself."

The president of the Motorcycle Union of Ireland said that the whole motorcycling community was stunned by the death of Dr Hinds.

"This is such a sad occasion," said John Atcheson. "Everybody is just stunned by his loss.

"We don't know how we will cope at the moment.

"People are still in shock. John was such and integral, important part of the scene, and had such a remarkable combination of skills."

And to the grieving family, Mr Atcheson sent a deeply felt message of support: "John was a very valuable part of our sport, not only all over Ireland, but further afield. They should be very proud of him - as I'm sure they are." Standing at race control, where the Tandragee 100 race begins, was Anne Forsythe, secretary of the North Armagh Motorcycle and Car Club.






She had been close to Dr Hinds, having known him for 14 years.

"This was a fitting tribute to a wonderful man. We are absolutely blessed to have had him. His death is a huge loss to us all," she said.

"Tonight is all about John, his family and his partner Janet - and I hope they feel that the sport as a whole, and his paramedic colleagues, have shown their deep respect and love for him."

At least six ambulances were on hand at Tandragee, and more medics joined from the Republic when the cortege arrived.

Alan Irwin, a St John Ambulance volunteer, said: "He had a wonderful way with people, a very professional manner, always able to put you at your ease."

Dr Hinds' crusade to bring an air ambulance service to Northern Ireland was in the minds of many of the mourners.

John Forsythe, president of the North Armagh Motorcycle and Car Club, said: "It would be wonderful if we could achieve John's dream of an air ambulance - not just for our sport, but for Northern Ireland as a whole."

A Change.org petition calling for the introduction of an air ambulance service in Northern Ireland has already received over 35,000 signatures. Find it at: http://chn.ge/1JFkFSZ

Dr Hinds' funeral will take place at St Patrick's Catholic Church, Ballyphilip Road, Portaferry, at 2pm tomorrow.

 To commemorate John’s legacy the family have said they would appreciate people to continue signing the petition here

Final journey

Wednesday July 8

Close friends and colleagues welcome to Janet and John's home from 9am-noon.

Close friends and colleagues welcome to John's family home at 4 Ballygarvigan Road Portaferry from 5pm-10pm and Thursday from 11.30am.

Thursday

Friends and family welcome to join the funeral cortege from Ballygarvin Road on three-mile journey to St Patrick's RC Church Ballyphilip Road, Portaferry for requiem mass at 2pm.

Further reading

NW200 woman saved by Dr John Hinds calls for an air ambulance in his memory

Eamonn: Emergency helicopter could have saved dad

Motorcycling world mourning for 'Flying Doctor' John Hinds

Irish road racing doctor John Hinds dies after practice session crash in Republic 

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