A 24-year-old motorcyclist who died in a crash on a busy A-road was a ‘happy-go-lucky boy’ and a ‘brilliant older brother’, say his family.

Matthew Marriage suffered critical injuries when his grey Ducati Monster motorbike collided with a Vauxhall Zafira on the A4074 between Nuneham Courtenay and Berinsfield in the early evening of Monday, May 15.

He was taken to hospital but died the following morning.

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The crash occurred at 5.53pm as Matthew, a mechanic who lived in Chalgrove with his parents and three younger brothers, was on his way to a weekly ‘bike meet’ with fellow riders at the H Cafe in Berinsfield.

“He was about two minutes away” said his father Steve, 54, who has vowed, along with his three sons, to never ride a bike again.

The family have laid bouquets of flowers, a bottle of beer, and a sign commemorating Matthew by the roadside near where the crash happened. 

Oxford Mail: Matthew Marriage's family have laid flowers near to where the fatal motorcycle collision took place

“Matt was my first born, and when you have your first baby, they’re your absolute pride and joy,” said Mr Marriage, a boat painter.

“You’re so proud and you’re showing them off to everyone, and that goes on.

“He was like my wingman. They all are. Although they are my sons, there are times when they’re also my mates.”

On Saturday, May 13, two days before the crash, Mr Marriage had spent the day fixing the timber decking in the garden with Matthew, and remembered they had ‘a bit of banter’ when his eldest son complained about his sore knees.

“He was like an 80-year-old in a 24-year-old’s body,” joked Mr Marriage.

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On Monday evening, he was finishing off the final repairs to the decking when his son Tom told him that two police officers were at the door.

The family were told of the crash, and Matthew's mother Gail was escorted to the hospital while Mr Marriage and his sons drove separately.

“We knew pretty much from 10 minutes of being there that he wasn’t going to make it,” said Mr Marriage, who has urged motorists to take care and watch out for motorcyclists on the road. 

“He wasn’t conscious, but we talked to him, cuddled him, and said goodbye.”

Oxford Mail: Front (left to right) Mathew Marriage's parents Gail and Steve, and behind, his younger brothers

Since the crash, tributes have poured in on social media from friends and family, and a GoFundMe page has raised almost £12,000 in Matthew’s honour to help build a new pathway around Chalgrove Recreation Ground.

On Sunday, a group of his friends gathered at Watlington Recreation Ground, where he used to skateboard, and yesterday evening (Sunday, May 22), there was a ‘ride of respect’ from motorcyclists who set off from H Cafe.

Mr Marriage said the tributes to his son showed how loved the ‘happy go lucky boy’ had been.

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“He was always friendly to other kids when he was little. He always looked out for new people, and he always looked out for his brothers,” he said,

Sam remembered how his older brother had stuck up for him at Icknield Community College, the school all four brothers attended, when older pupils had picked on him.

“He stood up to someone and he got water thrown at him as an event of it”, said Sam, who now works as a butcher at Aldens Meatmaster in Osney Mead.

“He told me afterwards, ‘you owe me for that’.

Matthew, who had worked as a mechanic for five years at John Boyd Motors in Chalgrove, helped Sam and Tom to repair a 1969 baby blue VW Beetle the pair had bought in March 2021.

The brothers spent hours tinkering with the vintage vehicle in a garage at the side of their house.

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“I look back and I’m really thankful we did that together and spent so much time together," said Tom, a chef at Raymond Blanc’s Michelin-starred restaurant Le Manoir in Great Milton.

"A lot of brothers drift apart at this sort of age but its good we were so close.

“There were times when it was frustrating, when a one-bolt job turned into an all-day job. One night we were in there at about 10pm, and me and Matt were trying to pull this engine out and we couldn’t work out how to do it.

Oxford Mail: Left to right, Steve, Tom, Matthew and Sam Marriage beside the 1969 blue VW Beetle  they repaired

“But we did it together and we made it work. We did all the shows together.”

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Tom recently bought a 1973 VW Campervan and had looked forward to repairing it with his brother before the fatal crash.

The youngest brother, Michael, shared a love of motorbikes with his eldest brother and the pair would ride together to the H Cafe after Michael bought his first bike aged 16.

In the winter of 2021, as Michael returned from working a late shift at the Maltsters Arms in Rotherfield Greys, near Henley, he was forced to pull his bike over due to heavy rain and phoned his older brother from the side of the road.

Matthew drove to Henley and followed close behind his younger brother for the rest of the way home with his headlights helping to guide the way 

“Words can’t describe how great he was,” said Michael, who is a chef at the Coach pub in Marlow.

“He was a brilliant older brother.”