Fitting send-off for agentleman and a scholar

A man who had played Santa on wheels for the annual Tamworth Toy Run for years was given his own motorcycle salute this week.

Stephen Keighley’s send-off by more than six local motorbike groups was a fitting tribute to a man described as a “gentleman and a scholar and a mate to everyone”.

Mr Keighley died at the age of 57 from prostate cancer. His funeral was held at the Lincoln Grove memorial chapel on Thursday with a procession of bikes lending a special poignancy to the celebration of his life and loves.

Mr Keighley was born in Hamilton, New Zealand on February 12, 1955, and moved to Australia more than 30 years ago. 

Friends providing the eulogy described how Steve met his wife Susan in 1991. He had worked at Tow World in Tamworth for 20 years, been involved with the SES for around that time too, but had been into bikes for most of his life.

He had joined the local Ulysses club nine years ago, loved charity events and loved playing Santa for the toy run each Christmas.

His mate Gary and Gary’s wife Val told of their special friendship and Steve’s support for them when Val had been diagnosed with cancer about 13 years ago.

They described him as “the mate with the cheeky smile and the softly spoken voice of a big biker man.”

His widow Susan rode with friend Dion Larkham on Steve’s bike in a funeral parade, with a favorite photo of Steve at the front.

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