A FATHER was killed in a crash in Henley before he had a chance to wish his daughter a happy birthday.
Michael Jiggens, 41, of Memorial Avenue, Shiplake, died after his motorcycle collided with a Royal Mail van in Wargrave Road at 12.35pm on Thursday last week.
He had been returning his Kawasaki Z1000, which he had bought in Winnersh the previous week, because he was not happy with it.
A friend who had been following so he could pick him up after dropping off the machine saw the crash. Mr Jiggens was pronounced dead at the scene.
The 25-year-old van driver was arrested on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving and later bailed.
Mr Jiggens, a businessman, had been due to call his daughter Hannah later that day to congratulate her on turning 19.
Miss Jiggens, who lives with her mother Vicky in Sonning Common, called her father an “incredibly kind and wonderful man”.
She said: “I loved him so much and we were very close. He was not only my dad, he was my friend and I miss him terribly.
“We would do day-to-day things together like visit my nana quite a lot. We’d also go to the cinema or for dinner and we had just started going to theme parks together — we were thrill seekers. He was a lovely man and I adored him.”
Miss Jiggens, who works at Naughty Mutt Nice in Reading Road, Henley, and studies animal management at Berkshire College of Agriculture, had been waiting for her father to call her when her mother told her the news.
Mr Jiggens and his wife were married for eight years before they separated four years ago and he was in a new relationship with Jo Newbury, of Goodall Close, Henley.
He was born and bred in Dunsden, the youngest of four siblings, and went to Shiplake Primary School and Gillotts School in Henley.
He owned Resin Roof Systems and Advanced Blast Cleaning, based in Market Place Mews, Henley.
Mr Jiggens’ widowed mother Joan, 84, who lives in Dunsden Green, called him a “loving, kind and caring son”.
She said: “Michael always came in smiling and cheerful. He was really good-natured. He was always full of life growing up and liked to get things done quickly.
“His application helped him in his job and he was starting to become successful.”
Mrs Jiggens, a retired nurse, said her son would drop in for a cup of tea with his workmates if he was passing and often took her out for lunch. The last time she saw him was on Tuesday last week when they went to Zizzi’s in Hart Street for his girlfriend’s birthday.
She said her son had a sense of adventure.
“Michael did one of the biggest bungee jumps in the world in Switzerland and had also been rock climbing and sky diving,” she said.
“That didn’t kill him though — he got killed in Wargrave Road a few miles from home.
“I can’t believe it and it hasn’t sunk in. I’m still numb.” Mrs Jiggens, whose 19-year-old nephew was killed in a motorcycle accident in her native Ireland more than 40 years ago, said motorcycles were popular in the family and she had often worried for her son’s safety.
She said: “I used to say, ‘you will kill yourself with them bloody motorbikes’ and he did.
“I was always worried when he went on them but everyone does what they want to do in life and that’s how it should be.”
Mr Jiggens’ sister Maureen Harrison, who lives in Caversham, said: “Michael was my lovely sweet little brother and to me he was like a big cuddly bear, always smiling.
“He never had a bad word to say about anybody. He was kind-hearted and genuine and would always be the first to offer anyone help.
“Michael will be fondly remembered for his sense of adventure. Whether it was skydiving, snowboarding, motorbike scrambling or bungee jumping, he was always at his happiest when he was sharing his next exciting adventure with us all or showing us his latest groovy dance moves, which will always make me smile.
“He was a wonderful father, son and brother and a good friend to many. I loved him very much and he will be deeply missed. He was a free spirit and now I hope he is at peace and flying free with the angels in heaven.
“I am so proud to have had him as a brother.”
Mr Jiggens’ brother Malcolm, from Binfield Heath, said: “He was the youngest brother who we loved a lot and are going to miss dearly.”
Close friend Athol Hill, son of Shiplake singer Vince Hill, said: “Mike will be sorely missed. There are a lot of people in Henley and beyond who are gutted. He was a well-known guy and would do anything for anyone.
“Mike was a very happy guy and an all-round top bloke. He was always a loud character and good fun to be with.
“There’s going to be a massive Mike Jiggens-shaped hole in our social group now.”
Mr Hill, 41, who went to school with Mr Jiggens, said: “We went through a lot together and he stuck by me when I went through some troubled times. He was always there for me whenever I needed him.”
He said they had often driven motorcross bikes in the woods near their Shiplake homes.
Mr Jiggens was skilled on a motorbike and had owned a number of machines.
Mr Hill said: “He was a good rider but it just shows how you’re here one minute, gone the next.”
Filip Novotny, another friend, said: “Mike’s kindness and warmth has affected so many people that I am only one in an ocean of those who had a chance to befriend and love him.
“I will cherish every single memory of Mike Jiggens and, believe me, there is plenty of them, all of them nice and at the moment truly painful.
“I will miss Mike’s overwhelming kindness and generosity, Mike’s ridiculous shirts, Mike’s unique laugh, Mike’s shocking dance moves, Mike’s bear hugs, Mike’s company, Mike.”
Flowers and messages have been left at the scene of the accident.
Miss Jiggens wrote: “To my daddy, I love you so much, I miss you so much. I hope you’re at peace.”
Her mother wrote: “Darling Mike, I can’t believe you have gone. I want you to know I will look after Hannah for you and keep her safe. I hope you find some peace now, sweetheart.”
Another message said: “Rest in peace, my baby boy, you’ve left me heartbroken. Love you always and forever, you little cling-on.”
An inquest was opened and adjourned on Wednesday.
The funeral will be held at St Anne’s Church in Caversham on Friday, May 24 at 1.30pm.