MORE than 100 kind-hearted bikers from across the county led a grandfather on his final trip around his beloved Mersea Island.

Following an appeal in the Gazette, upwards of 100 motorcyclists from across the area joined the funeral cortege of Gavin Smith on the island last week.

The bikers led Mr Smith’s coffin on a final tour of the island where he had spent most of his life before his untimely death in April at the age of 52.

Step daughter Shelley Caunter said: “There must have been more than 100 bikers from all over Essex.

“They had come from as far as Lakeside and Southend and members of the Harley Davidson Owners Club came along to take part.

“It was wonderful to see so many people who didn’t even know Gavin personally take the time out of their own lives to come and give him a good send off.

“It made the day go from being a day of mourning to being a day of celebration of his life.”

Mr Smith died last month from empyema, a condition which affects the space between the lungs and chest wall.

The former Thomas, Lord Audley School student was a tyre fitter by trade before ill-health forced him to retire.

Eventually the progression of his diabetes meant he had to have both legs amputated.

But the grandfather of 13 didn’t let his health problems get him down and was a familiar face to many residents across Mersea and Colchester.

Throughout most of his life the handyman was a bike enthusiast and his most prized possession was an iconic Vespa scooter.

Shelley said: “If Gavin could have been there he would have absolutely loved the funeral.

“He would have wanted a noisy send off.

“The funeral was better than we ever expected and that was all down to the bikers.

“They took him on a tour of the island past the seaside, before arriving at the cemetery.

“The respect the bikers showed was incredible. They were all lovely people and wished the family their condolences.

“When we left to take the coffin to the cemetery the bikers revved their engines and made a lot of noise.

“It was definitely the kind of send off Gavin would have wanted.

“His mum and his brother and sister absolutely loved it.”