Racing star devoted to his family will be missed.
Byline: Dan O'Donoghue Reporter firstname.lastname@example.org
HE was a mean racer on the track and a devoted family man off it.
Now, the flag has come down on the life of championship-winning biker Eddy Johnson after he died aged 79.
Eddy was a famous face on the North East riding circuit, winning a number of Scottish Championships as well as being a TT replica winner in the 1960s and '70s.
But the doting husband and father died after suffering a heart attack while out cycling with friends in Whitley Bay.
Despite valiant efforts from medically-trained cyclists who happened to be on the spot and sustained attempts later in hospital, Eddy, from Tynemouth, passed away on on January 20 surrounded by close family. And after his death, daughter Helen Connelly paid tribute to those who tried to help her loving father.
Helen, 54, who now lives in Kent, said: "I would like to thank all the people who stepped in to help and I want to give a huge thank you to all the staff at the RVI Critical Care Unit for their efforts to save my dad.
"There's not a better way to go out than the way he did, doing something he loved in a place that he loved.
"He really did lead a full life and he will be very sorely missed."
Eddy, one of racing's more colourful characters, was a driving force in the North East Motor Cycle Racing Club, organising meetings at Croft, Scarborough and other Northern circuits. But the sport to which he was so devoted brought tragedy in the death of his eldest son Stephen at the Ulster Grand Prix in 1992. His younger son Martin was seriously injured in a crash at Cadwell Park seven years later. Eddy's enthusiasm remained undimmed, however, and he was a proud supporter of his grandson Cody in junior racing.
After suffering a small stroke four years ago, Eddy became very interested in health issues and a strong campaigner for weight loss and fitness.
He formed The Haven Walking Group in Tynemouth last year, and more recently the Haven Cycling Group.
Eddy featured on our pages back in 2002 when he met his wife Noporat - also known as Nut - while on a round the world holiday with son Martin.
After meeting her in Thailand through a dating agency, the pair tied the knot in a lavish Bangkok ceremony attended by more than 300 guests before moving back to Tyneside.
Speaking at the time, Eddy said: "Martin and I were starting a fourmonth world trip, so the last thing on my mind was a romantic liaison.
"But I knew I had found my special someone, and I knew I wanted to spend the rest of my life with Nut."
Upon his return to the UK, Eddy and Nut became involved in helping to establish the Buddist Dhammakaya Meditation Centre in Hebburn, South Tyneside. Eddy leaves behind wife Nut, children Helen, Martin, Michelle, Faye and Samantha and his grandchildren.
His funeral will take place today at St Edwards Church, in Whitley Bay, at 10am followed by interment at Preston Cemetery at 11am.
<BEddy with his map of Thailand pointing to Bangkok where he married his wife Noparar, also known as Nut. Right, the happy couple