HEARTFELT tributes have been paid to an adventure-loving Black Country motorcyclist and rugby player who was killed in a road crash while riding in France.

Father-of-two David Cook, aged 41, who played for the veterans at Old Halesonians Rugby Club, Hagley, died after his motorcycle was hit by a car near Marseille last Friday night (June 14).

He was on his way home, heading towards Calais, after enjoying a touring holiday in southern France with friend Bernie Brinkmann from Stourbridge.

Mr Brinkmann, aged 63, has been struggling to take in the tragedy which has left friends and family heartbroken.

He said: “I’m gutted, He was a lovely lad.

“We went biking every year. We’d been there just over a week and we’d ridden over 2,000 miles, we were on our way back.

“It’s awful. It was a head on collision. He was at the back, I was at the front. I saw it and managed to swerve at the last second; he had no chance. It’s a really sad loss.”

David, who was also a keen scuba diver and Tough Guy competitor, leaves a wife Joy, two grown-up children - Adam, aged 22, and Chloe, aged 19, father John, mum Margaret and a sister Mandy, aged 39.

Joy, aged 44, described him as a “very, very supportive” family man for whom “nothing was ever too much trouble”.

Known as ‘Cookie’ to many of his friends, David was passionate about motorcycling and was a “very good biker”, she said.

“He knew exactly what he was doing. His bike was part of him.”

She said he had toured France, Germany and Spain on his motorcycle and would ride everyday to Evans & White Manufacturing Ltd in Kingswinford where he was works manager.

David’s devastated dad John, aged 65, from Amblecote, who is preparing to fly out to France to bring his son’s body home, said: “I’m very proud of him. He was a very strong man, and confident in his own abilities.

“He was a fantastic gentleman and he was a very, very successful engineer.

“I’m going to miss him so much. He was an incredible man, loved by hundreds of us.”

David Millward, managing director at Evans & White Manufacturing Ltd, said David would be “sorely missed by his colleagues and customers alike”. He added: “Our thoughts at the moment are with his wife Joy and family.”

Pals at Old Halesonians Rugby Club, Hagley, where David had been a member since his teens, have also spoken of their shock at the news of his sudden death.

Richard Thomas posted on the club’s website: “I am privileged to have known Cookie, and played with him for several years. Dave was a real competitor with a desire to win.

“The club loses a great player and loyal servant. The loss to Joy and his family is unthinkable and my thoughts are with them. ”

Club president Simon Hussey said David’s death was a “sad loss to the club”, adding: “He was a quiet, unassuming man who gave a valuable contribution to the rugby club.
“We offer our condolences and total support to his family at this difficult time.”

David's funeral will be held at 2.10pm at Gornal Wood Crematorium, followed by a wake at Old Halesonians RFC.