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Diss business founder Michael Bavin has died, aged 90

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Michael Bavin, whose name will instantly be known to motorcyclists in Diss and beyond, has died. He was 90.

As well as establishing Bavins motorcycles in Diss, he was chairman of Diss Motor Cycle Club and instrumental in opening up a motocross course at Wattisfield where meetings still take place.

He was always open to new ideas in business and, typically, fitted out a mobile spares shop so that riders could make running repairs during meetings, said his son William.

Michael Bavin with granddaughter, Elsa. Picture: The Bavin family
Michael Bavin with granddaughter, Elsa. Picture: The Bavin family

“Nobody had done it before but now everybody does,” he added.

Although both sons inherited their father’s passion for motorcycling, William is a restaurateur who has owned Weavers in Diss for more than 30 years.

William’s brother, Peter, has taken on the family motorcycle business in Victoria Road.

Michael Bavin’s life began in Chittagong – now part of Bangladesh – where his father worked for the British India Railway Company.

He and his brother were aged just three and five when they were put on a liner, to be met at Southampton by their grandmother to begin their schooling, said William.

After school, Michael briefly tried accountancy but never took to it and, after national service, he joined the Army, serving in the Royal Corps of Transport. He saw service as a motorcycle rider in Malta – where he met and married his wife Pam, an Army doctor – as well as in Cyprus and the Middle East.

He went on to run the Royal Signals Motorcycle Display Team, before ending his Army career with a four-year posting to Berlin.

Michael Bavin in his army days.
Michael Bavin in his army days.

Returning to the UK, he began a search for premises to open his own business and settled on Shelfanger garage, before moving to Victoria Road, where there was room to expand. Success followed and he became an agent for Yamaha. With his recognisable shock of white hair, Michael became a familiar figure at race meetings and events.

After the death of his wife, he moved to Somerset and expanded another of his passions, wood-turning – selling and exhibiting examples of his work.

Deteriorating health meant a return to Norfolk to be near his family and he died peacefully at the De Lucy care home in Diss.

“He ran his business as a gentleman and his word counted,” said William. “He was innovative and not afraid to try anything new.”

This article appears in the July 5 edition of the Diss Express

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