Thursday, 16 September 2021

Hundreds attend funeral of fun-loving motorcyclist

HUNDREDS of people attended the funeral of a businessman described as kind-hearted and fun-loving.

HUNDREDS of people attended the funeral of a businessman described as kind-hearted and fun-loving.

Michael Jiggens, 41, of Memorial Avenue, Shiplake, died after his motorcycle collided with a Royal Mail van in Wargrave Road, Henley, on May 9.

More than 400 mourners attended the service at St Anne’s Church in Caversham on Friday so that many had to stand outside. Some had responded to the family’s request for them to wear “cheerful” colours.

Mr Jiggens’ basket coffin was carried into the church by four pallbearers, including his brothers Frank and Malcolm, nephew Jack and cousin Michael Hughes, while the hymn Lord Of All Hopefulness was played. The service was led by Father Kevin Delaney.

Mr Jiggens’ nieces Emma Jiggens and Meghan Harrison both read out poems during the service before two tributes which were greeted with tears and loud applause.

Frank Jiggens read out a eulogy in which he described his brother as “a kind, trusting man who would always try to see the good in everyone”.

He told how Mike, a former pupil of Shiplake Primary School and Gillotts School, had made a lot of lifelong friends when he was young.

After school, Mr Jiggens obtained a carpentry qualification and went on to found his own building business before moving on to shot blasting and flat roofing. Most recently, he had owned Resin Roof Systems, based in Market Place Mews, Henley.

He was married to Vicky for eight years and the couple had a 19-year-old daughter, Hannah, but separated four years ago. Mr Jiggens had been in a new relationship with Jo Newbury, of Goodall Close, Henley.

Frank Jiggens said his brother had been “inseparable” from his daughter and called him a “fantastic father, son, brother and friend”.

He said: “We all have a different tale or memory of Mike — his sense of fun, his infectious laugh, his finger-squeezing handshakes, his crushing bear hugs, his lust for life, loud shirts and loud bikes. His love of anything dangerous led him to hang-gliding, bungee jumping, parascending, snowboarding, parachute jumping and, most dangerous of all, dancing! Who can forget the famous windmill dance, guaranteed to clear a packed floor in 30 seconds?

“Mike was always there to lend a hand, nothing was ever too much trouble.”

James Lloyd, a close friend and former classmate, said Mr Jiggens was a “free spirit” who “struggled to stop having a good time”.

“He lived his life how he saw fit and just wanted to take you along for the ride,” said Mr Lloyd. “He would have a blast and worry about the consequences later, or not at all.”

Mr Lloyd, of Vicarage Road, Henley, said Mr Jiggens didn’t have the application for school and couldn’t wait to “get out and hit the big wide world”.

“He was determined, successful and enjoyed the spoils of his hard work,” he said. “He always had the bikes and cars, the clothes and the best music collection on the best stereos. But he never made his friends worthless that they couldn’t match his material wealth. In fact, he wanted to us to share in his good fortune and his generosity, throughout his life, was a shining example.”

Mr Lloyd said Mr Jiggens “loved the thrills and spills of life” and “few could keep pace”.

He went white water rafting in the Himalayas, bungee jumping and skydiving, living by a motto of “if you never try, you’ll never know”.

Mr Lloyd said his greatest passion was motorcycles, adding: “Mike would have been the first to admit that he rode like he lived — fearlessly and quick, not always a good combination, but he pushed the limits because he was a very skilled rider.”

He recalled a trip to India when the pair were part of a group of riders on their way to a beach party. They encountered a police blockade and Mr Jiggens decided to weave in and out of the human barrier.

Mr Lloyd said: “Danger was never a stranger to Mike and in fact it seemed he welcomed its company. Sometimes you thought Mike was invincible but maybe he was just living on borrowed time.

“He had a bit of the devil in him, allied to a wicked sense of humour — there was usually no way back from a brutal Jiggens’ putdown. With his unique honesty, he wasn’t shy in letting you know how he saw it! But everybody took Mike in good faith, forgave him for any indiscretions and rejoiced once again in his company. It is only with his passing that we can fully appreciate just how popular and loved Mike really was.

“He would have been humbled by the massive response and overwhelmed by the dedications laid at his door. He was a true pillar of the community and we are blessed to have known such an amazing character.”

Following the service, the coffin was taken to Reading Crematorium in Caversham for cremation and a reception was held at the Grosvenor pub in Caversham.

Mr Jiggens’ mother Joan said there were so many people at the pub that some had to leave because they could not get to the bar. “It was very nice to see so many people at the funeral and it showed how popular Michael was,” she said. “It’s a consolation.”

An inquest into Mr Jiggens’ death has been opened and adjourned. The 25-year-old van driver has been arrested on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving.

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