“HE was one of the nicest fellows you could ever meet,” was one person’s tribute to Christopher James ‘Titch’ Hallam (pictured above) whose tragic death in a biking accident in India has numbed his family and a wide circle of friends.
The 39-year-old had been part of a 64-strong team of motorcyslists from Northern Ireland, England and Canda who were en route to Kodaikanal after visiting Goa as part of the two-week Enduro India 2011 challenge. It appears he swerved to avoid a cow and then crashed into an oncoming car when he was killed instantly.
Mr. Hallam had been due home on Sunday past for what would have been a happy reunion with his family; instead his wife, Gillian and her children, Dylan, Skye and Jake, have been left distraught at how events have taken such a cruel twist.
Mr. Hallam, who lived in Portrush, but was originally from Ballymoney, was described by one neighbour in the seaside resort as “such a nice person - one of the nicest fellows you could meet.”
The son of Ivor and Ann, Mr. Hallm had two brothers, Stephen and David, and the sympathy of the community is extended to all the family and family circle.
Speaking to the News Letter on Thursday, Mr. Hallam’s wife, a teacher at Ballymena Academy, said she was desperate to have her husband’s remains brought back so that the grieving process could begin.”
She said: “I have been on the phone constantly to the embassy and the police trying to find out when he can come home. The PSNI have been brilliant in the help they have given me, and I know they are doing all they can.”
Gillian said she had been on “auto pilot” since she was given the devastating news on Wednesday evening, which she had to pass on to her three young children, the youngest of whom is just two-and-a-half years old.
“I don’t think it has really set in yet, it is just unbelievable. I was at his parents’ house and they are gutted.
“I have told the children and they are dealing with it in their own way, I don’t think little Jake [the youngest] really understands yet.”
The trip to India had been the adventure of a lifetime for Chris, said Gillian.
“It is just so ironic that he died doing the thing that he loved the most, riding a bike and raising money for charity.
“He was so excited about this trip ... and he was telling me that he was having a ball. We were all looking forward to seeing him on Sunday as he would have been away two weeks. He had even been invited back for next year’s challenge.
“Chris just loved his family, his kids, his motorcycling and his music, he loved life and had a great sense of humour. Just a really great guy.”
Organisers of the charity challenge — Enduro India 2011 — said the rest of the motorcycling team had prayed for Chris’ family and held a minute’s silence ahead of yesterday’s leg of the journey.
In a statement released to the News Letter they said: “Chris did everything he could to avoid hitting the animal but in doing so changed direction suddenly and collided with an oncoming vehicle head-on. He was killed instantly.
“We have said a prayer for his family and children and held a minute’s silence for Chris who died doing something he loved very much whilst helping others less fortunate.
“We miss him very much and our thoughts and prayers go out to all that know him, especially those closest to him. R.I.P Chris.”
Bill Kennedy, the Mayor of Ballymoney where Mr Hallam’s parents Ivor and Ann are from, said the tragedy had been compounded by the thousands of miles separating the victim and his family.
“This is just awful sad news,” said Mr Kennedy, who is himself a motorcycling enthusiast. “It is the worst news that any family can get and my heart goes out to his wife and children and to his family here in Ballymoney. But it is even more tragic that he has been killed so far away doing something that was raising money for charity.”
The tragic biker had recently opened up a popular new pizza takeaway in Portrush.
A non-uniform day was held last year at the local primary school attended by his children to raise funds for the motorcycling challenge across India.
Mr Hallam is survived by his wife Gillian, children Dylan, Syke and Jake, parents Ivor and Ann and brothers Stephen and David.
Details of Mr Hallam’s death emerged yesterday as a funeral was held for another motorcycling enthusiast who died suddenly at the age of just 33.
Jonny Blair died while looking after his nine-month-old son Jonathan in their Ballymoney home at the weekend.
Hundreds who turned out for the funeral service in Tamlaghtard Parish Church heard how he had packed so much into his short life.
Speaking to the News Letter on Wednesday his father John said: “This is a terrible time for us, but we know that we have to channel this grief into looking after little Jonathan and giving him every support we can in the years ahead.”