A HUGE procession of scooters is expected to ride 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, has been met by family and friends with shock but also with warm memories of a “thoroughly decent bloke.”

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

His girlfriend, Hayley Owen, 21, said the last time she and John had been together was on a scooter run from Knaresborough to York, just days before his death.

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

“It’s a big shock to everyone. The Sunday before he died the sun was shining and we were so looking forward to the summer. Everyone was saying how well John looked.”

John Martin was born in Campleshon Road in York and was a pupil of Tadcaster Grammar School. He was one of the earliest members of York Scooter Club when it was founded in the 1970s and, when not messing around with scooters, John also had a liking for flash cars.

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.

“Scooter lads were always round our house. My dad could never get his car on the drive.”

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 colours of an American police motorcycle.

Nick Beilby, fellow member and friend, said: “He loved being part of the scooter scene.

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

“I know it’s a cliché, but he didn’t have a bad word to say about anyone. He was a thoroughly nice bloke and we will miss him.”

Alan May, founder of York Inset, said: “he was a popular member of the club and you could always count on him to turn up at the rallies. He was an all-round good guy.”

Bikers and scooterists are expected to gather this morning at 10am to ride past St Andrew’s Church for Mr Martin’s funeral at 10.30am.