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Bill Head’s family pay tribute to Preston motorbike ace

Posted on - 19th October, 2018 - 8:00pm | Author - | Posted in - Fulwood, Garrison, Preston News
Bill Head and his wife Norah
Bill Head and his wife Norah

The family of Preston’s best known motorbike trader have paid tribute to “the best, loving, caring, generous dad,” after he died at home last week.

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Bill, 90, was surrounded by his family at their home in Watling Street Road, Fulwood, when he passed away on Saturday October 13.

His five daughters and one son said: “He was the best.”

For more than five decades, Bill Head was the go-to guy for motorbike sales and parts in Preston, after starting his business in a lock-up in Ellen Street, Deepdale, in 1952.

His passion for petrol took him all around the world, with regular trips to Japan, Germany and the Isle of Man with Honda, his beloved franchise.

He soared to success at the Isle of Man TT Races in 1977 – 79, entering three winning bikes into the prestigious motorcycle race.

Bill Heads winning team at the TT Races 1977

From its humble beginnings the business grew, and by Bill’s retirement in 2006, the family firm had sites in Southgate, Longridge, Walton Summit and Corporation Street, employing hundreds of Prestonians.

Bill’s daughter Jill, said: “Motorbikes were his life. They were in his blood. After his family, they were his main passion.”

The company slogan, “Head For Honda” would boom out at the start of cinema screenings and his family laugh, as they remember slinking down in their seats as their family name filled the auditorium.

Bill also had a Motocross team, who entertained the crowds during half time at PNE’s Deepdale fixtures.

Bill Head Motocross Team

In 1977 Bill entered his first bike, a Honda 600cc  into the Formula 2 TT Race on the Isle of Man. With Alan Jackson at the handlebars, the bike soared into first place, securing Bill and his team the prestigious prize for making and preparing the winning bike.

For the next two years, Bill and his mechanics John Carr and David Baxter built the winning bikes for the Isle of Man TT Races – but the success didn’t go to Bill’s head.

His eldest daughter Sue said: “He always had a twinkle in his eye. Everybody loved him – but he was humble. He liked to be behind the scenes. He was a salesman but he was always in his work clothes, tinkering away. He was always very hands on.”

But for all his success on the international stage, Bill was very much a family man, and a proud Prestonian.

In 1958 he married his sweetheart Norah at Emmanuel Church in Brook Street, and the pair were proud to celebrate their diamond wedding anniversary in March this year.

Bill and Norah

His daughter Sarah said: “Every Sunday he would made us bacon and tomato butties. He’d work hard all week then do that for us.

“He always got the turkey and made Christmas dinner. He loved to cook for us.”

And from an early age, the children were introduced to two wheels and an engine, riding around the fields at the back of their home.

Bill’s son Nick still rides, and is busy rallying round the local motorbike community for a special tribute as Bill is laid to rest next Thursday.

In a fitting tribute, Bill’s coffin will have a motorbike escort and bikers are invited to meet on The White Hart car park at 1.30 – 2pm to ride behind the funeral procession.

Read more: Army motorbike display display to ride one last time at Preston military show

Bill’s family said: “He was always very supportive of local businesses – they supported him and he supported them.

“In his last few weeks he lived off Walling’s ice cream. He was very poorly but he didn’t want people to feel sorry for him.

“He had an infectious smile and a twinkle in his eye. He was the best.”

The funeral will take place at Christ Church, Victoria Road, Fulwood, at 2.30pm on Thursday October 25, with a committal at the Crematorium at Red Scar at 3.15pm.

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