| 13.6°C Belfast

Teen to take on role at NW 200 in memory of motorbike fanatic dad

Close

David Anderson’s son, Lewis, holds his late father’s crash helmet yesterday

David Anderson’s son, Lewis, holds his late father’s crash helmet yesterday

Debbie McGraw at home with a photo of her and David

Debbie McGraw at home with a photo of her and David

Debbie McGraw and her late partner, David Anderson

Debbie McGraw and her late partner, David Anderson

David Anderson’s son, Lewis, holds his late father’s crash helmet yesterday

A grieving woman has told of her pride that her teenage son is to act as a marshal at the North West 200 road races this year as a heartfelt tribute to his late father who loved the sport.

Debbie McGraw spoke out after an inquest in Coleraine into the death of her partner, David Anderson (42), who died last year while out with friends on their motorbikes.

Mr Anderson was buried in racing leathers, and hundreds of bikers took part in a procession from his Ashbourne Park home in Coleraine at his funeral.

The loving father-of-two - who left behind another son, Charlie (9) - went out on Easter Sunday with five friends to ride the public roads near Belfast that double as the course of the Ulster Grand Prix.

The inquest last Friday found that Mr Anderson's bike slid on loose stones as he went round a bend at Tornagrough Road in Hannahstown. He died from chest injuries at the scene after he and his bike hit a fence.

Ms McGraw (42) said her partner loved motorbikes and worked as a marshal every year at the same spot of the North West 200 - University Corner, near Coleraine. Now, his son, Lewis (16), is to take up the role in memory of his father.

"David loved motorbikes," Debbie added. "They were in his blood. He was in the North West 200 Supporters Club. He did the marshalling at University Corner every year without fail.

"Our son has now taken over the role and he stands down there. We put a wee plaque in David's memory down there last year. That was his corner, and now Lewis has stood in and he loves it. Every day on his Facebook, Lewis has a countdown saying it is so many days to the North West 200.

"Lewis is absolutely daft about motorbikes - it is in his blood too. What happened to David has not put him off - we thought it would. When he (David) died, Lewis sold off a race bike, but he has the sense to know he will wait until he is older to ride a motorbike. But he is still crazy about bikes."

Debbie described how she and David, who she called "the life and soul of the party" were childhood sweethearts who met when she was 13 and he was 15.

"He was a good soul," she added. "I was with David 27 years. He was caring and he was considerate and I think if he could have done anything for anybody, he would have."

Mr Anderson had his own motorbike business and transported vehicles all over Europe. He formerly worked for Harley Davidson in Antrim and Ballymena.

Despite the outcome of the inquest, Debbie said she was unsure of exactly what happened the day her late partner died.

"That is what got me," she added. "They kept mentioning the fact it was the racetrack. It was the Tornagrough Road, but it kept being referred to as a racetrack. I thought, 'Is this sort of the stigma that is attached? Were they doing laps around the track?'

"But they had just arrived there. They kept referring to it as a grand prix track, but the road had a name. I understand it also had that attached to it - that it is a grand prix track -but David and them were not going up there to race around the track. They were just out for a ride."

David's brother, John (42), added: "People should be aware it is a public road and you have to treat it with respect. Don't think you are a racer when you are on it. You are not, you are only human. You are only skin and bones and you never know what is round the next corner."

During the inquest, Coroner Brian Sherrard passed on his condolences to Mr Anderson's family. "We have lost somebody who was a partner, a father and a brother, and we as a community have lost someone," he said.

Belfast Telegraph