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‘Tommy couldn’t have had a more loving dad’

A woman has paid tribute to her partner of 12 years, saying she could not have asked for a “more caring or loving father” for their son.

Reece Houghton, of Catchpole Walk in Dickleburgh, died of unknown causes at his home last month.

His partner, Tracey O’Neil, described the 54-year-old as unique and praised his approach to raising their six-year-old son, Tommy.

Tracey O'Neil with her six-year-old son Tommy.Picture: Mark Bullimore.
Tracey O'Neil with her six-year-old son Tommy.Picture: Mark Bullimore.

“He had such a strong character and anyone who ever met him never forgot him,” said Ms O’Neil, who met Mr Houghton in 2008.

“I could not have asked for a more caring or loving father for Tommy and I know he and his other children idolised him.”

With Mr Houghton’s death falling in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, his family were prevented from holding a traditional funeral service – but that did not stop them from giving the motorbike fanatic a fitting send off last week.

Reece Houghton (37360618)
Reece Houghton (37360618)

“He just loved bikes so much – he was motorbike mad,” said Ms O’Neil.

“Me and Tommy would go with him to Snetterton to camp and watch the bikes. He used to say that motorbikes were in his veins.

“One of his friends found a newspaper article about a motorbike procession at a funeral, so I thought I would go on Facebook to see if any bikers wanted to help.”

The response was instant, coming from individuals and biker groups from across Norfolk and Suffolk, as well as Biker Funeral Escort – who took over organising the motorcyclists.

A cortège of around 65 bikers met at the BP Garage in Scole on June 15, before travelling through Diss to Rosedales Funeral Homes, and then on to All Saints’ Church in Dickleburgh.

Ms O’Neil had no idea how many had agreed to help before the day.

Some of the motorcyclists who formed the cortege. (37360679)
Some of the motorcyclists who formed the cortege. (37360679)

She said: “We thought there would be a few of them, but when I started to hear the engines, they just kept coming.

“I was completely blown away by it all – we did not expect all of those to appear.

“I honestly cannot thank everyone enough and I’m so grateful for what they have done for us and Reece.”

As there could be no church service and only 10 people at the graveside, the bikers found their own way to honour Mr Houghton.

“When they arrived at the church, they all turned their engines off,” explained Ms O’Neil.

“Then, when Reece was carried to his grave, they started up again and gave him a revving tribute.

“One of the riders said to me that, while he was one the journey, he took a look in his wing mirror and all he could see was bikes and nothing else – I will never forget that.

“From when he was picked up at Rosedales in Diss to when he was buried, all Reece would have heard was the sound of motorbike engines – that’s just the way he would have wanted it.”

Mr Houghton leaves his partner, Tracey, son Tommy, and other children Kelly, Lee and Joe.

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