HE was a global director who travelled as far afield as China, America, and Australia.

But keen cyclist Richard Hirst felt most at home in the Tyne Valley, exploring the rolling hills on his bike.

Tributes have been paid to the Haydon Bridge man, who died on Friday, May 8, after a cycling accident led to a series of rare health complications.

Family members attended a private burial on May 15 at Haydon Old Church, a place he was fond of, and where he occasionally carried out voluntary maintenance work in the church yard.

“Richard loved Haydon Bridge and the local countryside,” said his wife of 52 years, Pat. “We moved here 40 years ago from Wolverhampton, and have never wanted to live anywhere else.

“He was passionate about the area, and was a lovely, practically minded man who would happily help anyone.”

Richard began cycling as a child. In his early teens, he and a friend cycled from the West Midlands to Devon and back.

He met Pat at school in Wolverhampton, and after marrying his childhood sweetheart, the couple moved to the Tyne Valley, when Richard took a job at Churchill Gear Machines in Blaydon.

He later joined paint company Akzo Nobel in Felling, and served as global HR director, which offered many opportunities to visit different parts of the world.

After retiring, about a decade ago, the father-of-three stepped up his cycling hobby. He ventured into the Lake District, and cycled some of the Tour de France routes, reaching the summit of Mount Ventoux.

Richard, who was a member of Allendale-based cycle club Allen Valley Velo, also enjoyed repairing and building bikes. He sometimes worked on motor bikes, and once restored a series one Land Rover.

Pat said that following a recent cycle ride, Richard returned home having fallen and hurt his elbow. But the scratch he received developed a rare infection, before he suffered an unusual reaction to the antibiotics used to treat it.

“These complications led to Richard’s untimely death,” said Pat. “We miss him greatly, and have been overwhelmed by the cards, and the kind messages of condolence we have received.”

The granddad-of-two also did voluntary work for the Tyne Rivers Trust, and for the National Trust, at Allen Banks.

Richard’s family are now raising money for the Vindolanda Charitable Trust, a cause close to their hearts. To donate visit https://www.gofundme.com/f/richard-hirst.