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NI man's Estonia tribute to Joey Dunlop: Superfan marks 20th anniversary of his death with trip to scene of fatal crash


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Albert Kirk Dundonald motorcycle race fan has returned from an emotional one-man pilgrimage to Estonia where he paid tribute to his friend and hero Joey Dunlop on the 20th anniversary of the world champion's tragic death.

Albert Kirk Dundonald motorcycle race fan has returned from an emotional one-man pilgrimage to Estonia where he paid tribute to his friend and hero Joey Dunlop on the 20th anniversary of the world champion's tragic death.

Albert Kirk Dundonald motorcycle race fan has returned from an emotional one-man pilgrimage to Estonia where he paid tribute to his friend and hero Joey Dunlop on the 20th anniversary of the world champion's tragic death.

A local motorcycle racing fan has returned from an emotional one-man pilgrimage to Estonia, where he paid tribute to his friend and hero Joey Dunlop on the 20th anniversary of his tragic death.

Dundonald man Albert Kirk laid flowers on behalf of Joey's widow Linda at a memorial erected at the spot where the world champion was killed in an accident on July 2, 2000.

He was also able to join in special anniversary commemorations attended by scores of Estonian bikers and Theresa Bubbear, the UK's ambassador to the country.

"I thought the world of Joey," said TV cameraman Albert, who covered the first and tenth anniversaries of the sporting star's untimely passing.

"I got to know Joey from my work, but I'm proud to say that we were friends.

"I also had the greatest respect for him as a big-hearted man who went out of his way to help people who were in need at home and abroad.

"I made up my mind ages ago that I wanted to be in Estonia on the 20th anniversary of his death.

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Albert Kirk has returned from an emotional one-man pilgrimage to Estonia where he paid tribute to his friend and hero Joey Dunlop on the 20th anniversary of the world champions tragic death.

Albert Kirk has returned from an emotional one-man pilgrimage to Estonia where he paid tribute to his friend and hero Joey Dunlop on the 20th anniversary of the world champions tragic death.

Albert Kirk has returned from an emotional one-man pilgrimage to Estonia where he paid tribute to his friend and hero Joey Dunlop on the 20th anniversary of the world champions tragic death.

"I flew out to Estonia on my own from Dublin and on the day of the anniversary I went to the scene of the accident with flowers to lay on behalf of Linda Dunlop and Stephen Watson from the BBC, who was a huge admirer of Joey.

"It was a very difficult day. The memories of Joey's fantastic exploits on his bike in happier times came flooding back. It was heart-breaking to think that this wonderful man died at the very place I was standing exactly 20 years earlier."

Joey, who was 48, appeared to lose control in wet conditions during a 125cc race on the Pirita-Kose-Kloostrimetsa Circuit in Tallinn and was killed instantly on impact with trees.

His death was met with a remarkable outpouring of grief among motorcycle fans around the world and an estimated 50,000 mourners attended Joey's funeral in Ballymoney.

At the memorial in Estonia, Albert also left a wristband in memory of Joey's racing nephew William, who was killed during practice for the Skerries 100 in Co Dublin two years ago.

Albert was unaware of the full commemoration plans until he arrived in Estonia.

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Estonian bikers gather to mark Joey's anniversary

Estonian bikers gather to mark Joey's anniversary

Estonian bikers gather to mark Joey's anniversary

"I was at the memorial in the morning and there was nobody else about, but I later heard that something was planned for the evening," he said.

"However, I never imagined that it would be on such a large scale.

"Scores of Estonian bikers gathered at the memorial and later did a ride-past in the rain.

"The weather was very similar to what it had been at the time of Joey's accident.

"Several dignitaries from the local area joined the British ambassador in laying flowers.

"It was awesome to see the respect that so many people in Estonia have for Joey."

Ambassador Bubbear, who lives close to the scene of the accident, said in a speech to the assembled crowd at the memorial: "Joey Dunlop was a member of a great sporting family. He did not want to be remembered as the superstar that he undoubtedly was but for being himself.

"So, let's remember him as a very great man and be grateful for his life. It's an honour for me to be participating in this service."

The ambassador added that she passed the memorial every day on her way to work and always made time to say hello to Joey.

Albert, who went to Estonia in a private capacity, said the commemorations were so powerful that he recorded them and sent some of the footage back to Belfast for the BBC to use in its teatime news and sport bulletins.

Belfast Telegraph