A HOLIDAY ended in tragedy when a Sunderland couple travelling home from France died in a motorbike crash.
Malcolm and Beverley Hagan were killed when Malcolm suffered a heart attack while riding their motorcycle.
The 56-year-old died instantly from the attack.
Beverley, 53, was killed due to the impact of the crash.
The couple, of South Hylton, who “fell in love at first sight,” were together for 37 years and had one daughter, Gemma Hagan-McGrandle, 32.
Today, their family told the Echo of their heartbreak at the loss of the “unique couple”.
“The only comfort that we can take from what happened is that they went quickly together,” said Malcolm’s sister Lynne Hagan, 59.
“There was no pain, no anguish, and that is what we are focusing on.
“Gemma was their only child and she has been amazingly strong in these difficult times.
“Now, we just want to protect her.”
The keen bikers had been attending the annual Pan Gathering of The Northern Pan Riders, near Nancy in Northern France, when they were killed.
And in honour of them, friends and fellow riders will accompany the hearses carrying their coffins to Sunderland Crematorium for their joint funeral, on Thursday.
“They were good friends to many,” said Lynne. “Generous, kind and considerate.
“They will be missed.
“In a break from tradition, Beverley will go first – she was the rock.”
Malcolm, a former squadron sergeant major, served in the Army for 25 years, including in Operation Desert Storm, in the Gulf War.
“The demands of military life place a strain on relationships and families,” said Lynne.
“Mal and Bev were blessed to have an enduring love.
“She was strong and caring.”
Their time as a service couple inspired years of charity work, which saw the pair helping to raise tens of thousands of pounds for various causes, and taking part in Rides of Respect at Wootton Bassett.
“They were generous to many charities with their time and money,” Lynne said.
“They were an example to us all.
“They enjoyed dressing up for special charity events, even turning out as Father Christmas for Santa rides – such was Mal’s authenticity to the Santa persona that he started growing the beard in September.
“They attended the funerals of many fallen comrades, so a Just Giving page has been set up to raise money for Help for Heroes in their memory.”
Scores of bikers and friends are expected to attend the funeral.
Lynne said: “We are expecting a huge turnout for both of them.
“They will be greatly missed.”
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office confirmed the couple’s death.
“We can confirm the death of two British nationals, Beverley and Malcolm Hagan, in France, on September 3,” a spokesman said.
“We are providing consular assistance to the family.”
The funeral will take place at 1.30pm.
A wake will follow at The Alexandra pub, Grangetown.
Donations are in lieu to Help the Heroes, visit www.justgiving.com/malandbev.