Final respects paid to Bob Bickerdike

HUNDREDS of mourners gathered on Monday to remember adventurer Bob Bickerdike who died three weeks ago after falling to his death in the French Alps following a ballooning expedition.

Speakers were set up outside St Mary Magdalene Church in Brampton to accommodate the large crowds expected to pay their respects to Mr Bickerdike, founder of the Brampton Garden Centre.

Among the mourners were his wife Julie, siblings Bill, Anne and John, and his daughter Georgie. His sons Robert, Anthony, James, Sam and Harry, carried the coffin to its final resting place in the church’s cemetery.

Speaking at the service, led by Reverend Canon Martin Greenfield, were friends Simon Wardle, Robert Goldspink, Simon Cooper and Richard Addison.

Huntingdon Community Church minister Simon Matthews described how Mr Bickerdike, a devout Christian, was committed in his faith and spiritual journey. He had served as a deacon at the church and undertaken several Alpha courses.

Mr Matthews had also accompanied Mr Bickerdike on a white-water rafting trip down the Zambezi River, after the pair had helped at an orphanage project in Zambia.

He said: “He would want us to smile as well today. We should say ‘thank God for this man, and the seeds he has sown into my life and my memories.’”

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Mr Bickerdike was killed when he fell 700 metres trying to make his way to a nearby chalet after landing his balloon on a mountain top in the Alps on Thursday, February 10.

The 64-year-old opened a garden centre in Sandy with his brother Bill in 1966. The pair expanded to Brampton in the 1970s and sold the business to Frosts 10 years ago.

Mr Bickerdike had lived on the site in Buckden Road, Brampton, with his family.

Described by friends as ‘born to adventure’ Mr Bickerdike was a keen balloonist, skier, motorcyclist and sailor.

Since retiring, he had trekked across the Moroccan mountains and desert and biked to Istanbul, cycled to Land’s End and John O’Groats for charity, and sailed across the Atlantic.

Donations from the service went to Cornerstone Pregnancy Crisis, a charity set up by Mr Bickerdike for mums-to-be in need of advice and guidance.