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Coddenham/Ipswich: Former European motocross champion and James Bond stuntman Dave Bickers dies

PUBLISHED: 21:18 07 July 2014

Dave Bickers in action at Hintlesham Hall in August 1967. Photo by Dave Kindred.

Dave Bickers in action at Hintlesham Hall in August 1967. Photo by Dave Kindred.

Dave Bickers, the Suffolk motocross legend who dominated the sport in the early 1960s, has died.

The former double European motocross champion, of Coddenham, died peacefully at Ipswich Hospital yesterday morning surrounded by his family after suffering a stroke. He was aged 76.

He leaves behind his wife Sylvia Bickers, 70, two children, Paul Bickers and Andrea Leach, and six grandchildren.

In a statement, his son Paul, 46, said: “It is with great sadness that I am announcing the passing of my father Dave Bickers.

“He left us peacefully (on the morning of July 6). All of his family were at his side. His daughter Andrea (made) it back from Brisbane, Australia, just in time to be with the rest of the family.

“The stroke was very severe and he could not win the fight against the damage caused. We plan to have a celebration of his life in the not too distant future.

“Details of this will follow when arrangements have been made.”

In the early 1960s, Bickers was one of the top motorcycle racers in the sport of scrambling, which eventually became more popularly known as motocross.

He won two consecutive 250cc European motocross championships in 1960 and 1961 for the Greeves factory racing team.

The European championship was considered to be the world championship at the time, as the sport of motocross had yet to develop outside of Europe.

In 1976, after retiring, Bickers started his own company – Bickers Action – manufacturing stunt equipment for the film industry.

Bickers himself doubled for James Bond actor Roger Moore in Octopussy in 1983. His first film as a stuntman was the 1979 classic Escape to Athena.

His son Paul now runs the family business, which is based in Coddenham, near Ipswich.

On Twitter, the Ipswich-based seven-time British speedway champion Scott Nicholls said: “Saddened to hear Dave Bickers has passed. He was a local bike legend (and) worldwide for that matter. Thoughts are with his loved ones.”

Roger Chaplin, president of the Sudbury Motor Cycle Club, paid tribute to a “true and wonderful gentleman, rider and a legend”.

He said: “It is with great sorrow and sadness to hear of the passing of Dave Bickers who is regarded as a legend by those of us in the motor cycle world and judging by the many tributes that I have seen also well known throughout the world.”

Trevor Brame, 64, of Stratford St Mary, worked as a warehouse manager for Mr Bickers for 27 years.

He said: “He was our Pelé in those days, and I never regretted working for him. He was very fair, generous and never forgot a favour.”

Former Ipswich Witches speedway rider John Louis said: “He was world class in his peak. He was in effect double world champion as the European championships later became the world championships.

“He will be sorely missed.”

Orwell Motorcycles Ltd said on their Facebook page: “Sad news today for the Orwell family. Dave Bickers passed away today following a stroke aged 76.

“Having had many happy years working for Dave as ‘Bickers Motorcycles’ we took over in 1983 to form Orwell Motorcycles and remained close friends. RIP Dave, our thoughts are with your family. Ray, Judi and all here at Orwell x.”

Four-time world speedway champion Barry Briggs, in his autobiography Wembley and Beyond: My Incredible Journey, described Mr Bickers as one of his two “heroes”, saying: “Dave Bickers was brilliant at motocross, he did it with heart.”

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