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Biker parade for man who loved Harleys

PUBLISHED: 10:31 27 October 2001 | UPDATED: 10:45 03 March 2010

SCORES of Harley Davidson owners will act as outriders for the funeral of a leading figure in the energy supply industry, who died while riding one of the bikes.

SCORES of Harley Davidson owners will act as outriders for the funeral of a leading figure in the energy supply industry, who died while riding one of the bikes.

Stephen Gardiner, 46, had played a key role for more than a decade in various financial appointments with Eastern Electricity, through to its present form as TXUEnegi.

He left the Ipswich-based company 18 months ago to join a new dot.com energy business.

Known throughout the country as a leading enthusiast of Harley Davidson motorcycles, he was on his way to a charity event when the machine he was riding was involved in a crash on the M25 last Sunday.

Mr Gardiner, who had lived with his partner Linda Brendish in Long Melford for the last five years, was a member of both the Essex and Fenlander chapters of the famous motorcycle marque, the latter branch covering Suffolk and Norfolk.

Last night Mrs Brendish paid tribute to the man who she said had a life-long passion for the machines, and was an accomplished mechanic who customised his own bikes.

"Stephen's entire social life was built round Harley Davidsons, including attending club charity rallies and other events during his holidays.

"He was in St Tropez this summer for the Harley Davidson Euro rally. Motorcycling was everything to him. Three years ago he qualified as an advanced motorcyclist."

She said on the day Mr Gardiner died, he was on his way to the Severn Bridge to take part in the Hog on the Bridge event. The bridge was closed to allow Harley riders the chance to do sponsored crossings, and the day raised more than £8,000 for the support group Cancer and Leukaemia in Childhood. Donations in his memory will now be sent to the fund.

His bereaved partner described Mr Gardiner as a man who had been highly regarded for his strong intellect and incisiveness.

"He was very a thorough and careful person, but very witty, with a strong sense of humour. He was always honest, fair and objective but, at the same time, unassuming and modest," she said.

Born in March, he grew up in Ely, and qualified as a chartered accountant at Birmingham University. He joined Price Waterhouse as a consultant accountant, before moving to work in Suffolk as financial controller with Wardle Storeys, at Brantham.

In 1989 he joined Eastern Electricity, where he held a number of senior appointments, including responsibility for regulatory issues at the time of privatisation. He was also closely involved in the company's launch into supplying gas, and was financial controller when he left the organisation last year.

He left to become finance and operations director of Bizzenergy.com, an internet energy company set up by former Eastern chief executive John Devaney. The firm is based in Worcester, where Mr Gardiner has been commuting in recent months.

His funeral takes place at Long Melford next Friday afternoon.

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