Dr John Hinds: A fine tribute to a remarkable man
It was perhaps the kind of final journey that Dr John Hinds would have wished for, even if it came far too early in a life dedicated to saving the lives of others. Hundreds of bikers accompanied his cortege as it made its way from Skerries, where he died in a motorcycling accident last week, to his home town of Tandragee.
Poignantly, at the head of the convoy was his partner Janet and his colleague Dr Fred MacSorley. Together the two doctors had attended countless road races to bring emergency aid to riders in the event of a crash. Dr Hinds was killed during a practice session for a race in the Republic.
There are many riders today who owe their lives and their recovery to those doctors and the biking community was able to amply demonstrate its respect for Dr Hinds, who was only 35 when he died.
While Dr Hinds was not a racer, his job at the track meant following riders around at high speeds to minimise the time it would take to administer life-saving aid. He well knew the dangers of the sport and also of motorcycle riding. Motorcycles are the most unforgiving of vehicles in the event of a crash, as the long list of racers who have lost their lives in accidents will testify, but there is danger in all sorts of everyday activities, even crossing the road.
Just as no one forces racers onto their bikes, so there was no imperative for Dr Hinds to become one of the 'racing doctors'. He was just like everyone else who rides a motorbike. It gives a thrill that cannot be matched by other forms of road transport. There is an exhilaration in riding a motorbike that is almost drug-like in its addiction.
Perhaps that is why the death of a biker is felt so keenly by others. The family of Dr Hinds knew that his heart lay with motorcycles and that is why they invited bikers to be part of his cortege and to ride a lap of his favourite circuit at Tandragee, and that is why so many turned out.
Since his death tributes have poured in for Dr Hinds, the brilliant medic who helped devise emergency aid procedures for use at the trackside, but who was also a compelling advocate for the creation of an air ambulance service in Northern Ireland.
This newspaper has already urged health authorities to provide this service. We now add a rider to our demand. The aircraft should bear the image of Dr Hinds to remind everyone of a remarkable man.