A HUGE scooter procession is expected to pass through Bishopthorpe today for the funeral of a York scooter enthusiast known to his friends as “Vespa John”.

The death of John Norman Martin, 53, was greeted by family and friends with shock but also with warm memories of a “quite decent guy”.

He died suddenly in his sleep at his home in Bishopthorpe on March 30.

His girlfriend, Hayley Owen, 21, said the last time she and John were together was on a scooter from Knaresborough to York, just days before she died.

She said: “I met John through the Inset Scooter Club – we did it all together. She was a soul mate.

“It’s a big shock for everyone. The Sunday before his death the sun was shining and we looked forward to summer. Everyone was saying how good John looked.

John Martin was born at Campleshon Road in York and was a student at Tadcaster Grammar School. He was an early member of the York Scooter Club when it was founded in the 1970s, and when he wasn’t playing scooters, John loved flash cars as well.

His sister, Dawn Pawson, said: “He once had a Starsky and Hutch car – red, with a white stripe. He also had an MG, but he always came back to scooters.

“The scooter guys were always around our house. My father was never able to drive his car.

For the past seven years John had been a member of the Inset Scooter Cub where he was a familiar site on his Vespa, called “CHIPS”, which was decorated in the colors of an American police motorcycle.

Fellow and friend Nick Beilby said: “He loved being a part of the scooter scene.

“Whenever we went for a scooter run and one of us broke down, as we invariably did, he always helped.

“I know it’s a cliché, but he didn’t have a bad say in anyone. He was a really nice guy and he will be missed.

Alan May, founder of York Inset, said: “He was a popular member of the club and could always be relied on to show up at gatherings. He was a good guy in every way.

Bikers and scooter riders are expected to gather this morning at 10 a.m. to pass St Andrew’s Church for Mr Martin’s funeral at 10:30 a.m.

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