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‘He was my little Valentino Rossi’ - family pay tribute to their motorbike-loving son killed in Norwich crash

21:18 20 February 2013

Yan Cherry-Jay

Yan Cherry-Jay's mother Jo Turrell and stepdad Paul at their Rockland St Mary home. Photo: Steve Adams

The mother and step-father of a motorcyclist who died in a crash in Norwich said they had been overwhelmed with support following the tragedy.

A family photo of Yan as a toddlerA family photo of Yan as a toddler

The living room of Paul and Jo Turrell’s home in Rockland St Mary is now full of cards and flowers paying tribute to their son Yan Cherry-Jay.

The 20-year-old was killed when his black Aprilia motorcycle was in a collision with a pedestrian at about 8.20pm on Thursday on Magpie Road in the north of Norwich.

He was driving home to Rockland St Mary after finishing a shift at Asda, in Hellesdon, where his mother also worked.

Mrs Turrell, 50, said: “It is just so unfair. He was a free spirit with his own personality. He was a very strong person inwardly.”

Yan, aged 10, in a school photo supplied by his mother Jo Turrell and stepdad PaulYan, aged 10, in a school photo supplied by his mother Jo Turrell and stepdad Paul

Mr Cherry-Jay first developed a love for motorcycles as a child.

His mother recalled that when they lived in West Earlham she could not get him to go to nursery in the mornings until her friend who lived nearby had started up his bike. His great passion was motorsports and Mrs Turrell recalled the debates they would have about Formula 1 and Moto GP. “He was my little Valentino Rossi,” she said. “He was a little character.”

She was going to take him to Silverstone this year to see his hero, Valentino Rossi, race on a Yamaha, as a treat for his 21st birthday.

Mr Cherry-Jay first started riding motorcycles in a field opposite his home at 13 and got his first bike at 16. “He was a very accomplished rider,” Mrs Turrell said. “We pressurised him to get his car test and hoped he would get a car and leave the bike alone, but he had that for six months and was back on his bike again.”

Yan Jay who died in a motorbike accident on Magpie Road in Norwich.Yan Jay who died in a motorbike accident on Magpie Road in Norwich.

Stepfather Paul, 39, said: “I came into his life when he was four and we couldn’t have wished for a better son.

“He has broken a lot of hearts. I can’t believe how much he was loved by everyone. The mood at Asda is horrendous.”

Mr Turrell went into the store on Sunday and was overwhelmed by the amount of people coming up to him and expressing their sympathy.

The couple have visited the spot where the accident happened at the junction of Magpie Road and Heath Road and a lamp post on the road is now covered in flowers.

Floral tributes in Magpie Road. Photo: Steve AdamsFloral tributes in Magpie Road. Photo: Steve Adams

Mr Cherry-Jay grew up in West Earlham and went to West Earlham First School before going to Drayton VC and then Framingham Earl High School.

His mother said he had dreams of serving in the army as a boy but was hampered as a birth defect meant he only had one kidney. But he still kept an interest in the armed forces and when he grew up raised money for the charity Help for Heroes.

Mr Cherry-Jay lived in the family home on The Street with Mr Turrell’s mother Phyllis, who he affectionately referred to as ‘Nanna G’ and Mr Turrell said his stepson would go and see his mother after work.

After his death, Mr and Mrs Turrell also discovered their son had been recording rap music and was making a record.

The couple thanked everyone who had been involved in Yan’s life and knew him. They also thanked staff at Asda, the mortuary, Gordon Barber Funeral Directors, PC Chris Tremlin from Norfolk police, Simon Bunter and his partner Dawn who called 999 and helped at the scene and all the people who had sent cards and flowers.

Mr Cherry-Jay’s funeral will be held at Rockland St Mary parish church on Thursday February 28 at 11am.

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