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Race must go on, says widow of tragic biker

The grieving widow of a motorcyclist killed in practice for a race gave her blessing for the event to go ahead -- saying that it was what he would have wanted.

Rising racing talent and father-of-three Stephen Larkin (27), from Gilford, Co Down, died after crashing in the practice session for the Kells Road Races on Saturday afternoon.

He was pronounced dead after being brought to Beaumont Hospital.

The accident occurred during the practice session for the 401-750cc support race on the Crossakiel circuit.

Despite the tragedy, his family insisted the races should continue as "it is what Stephen would have wanted".

"His wife Catherine, father Gerry and brother Michael stated that it is what Stephen would have wanted. He loved the racing," said Aileen Ferguson, secretary of the Kells Motorcycle Racing Club.

"The family asked me to pass on their good wishes to all competitors and they hoped that the racing would go well."

Stephen's brother Michael intended to be at the Kells races yesterday.

"Kells MCRC would like to express their sympathy to all the Larkin family and to all Stephen's many friends," said Aileen.

A collection was held at the track yesterday for the rider's family.

The Larkin family issued a statement yesterday calling for privacy at this "very painful and sad time".


"Stephen's wife Catherine, his children Aaron, Megan and Callum, father Gerald, mother Bernadette, brother Michael, sister Martina and the entire family circle are shocked and devastated by the tragic and untimely death of Stephen," it said.

Mr Larkin worked as a mechanic at Agnew's Audi centre in Portadown, Co Armagh.

He had just won his first motorbike race at the Bush Road Races in Co Tyrone four weeks ago.

Craigavon councillor Dessie Ward said everyone in Armagh who knew Stephen was devastated by the news.

"Yesterday was my wedding and we only got word through texts to the reception last night," he said.

"There were a lot of tears because Stephen would have been very well liked and respected in the area."

Stephen's death is the second in two years at the Kells race meeting.

Last July Padraig Campbell (32) died during a practice session at the meeting.

His death was the first in the 15-year history of the Crossakiel event.

Road racing also claimed another life earlier this month, when Knocklyon man and father-of-two Myles Byrne (36) was killed during the final race of the Skerries 100 meeting on July 3.