FAMILY members have paid tribute to ‘kind and gentle’ speedway rider David Ashby, who has died at the age of 65.

David, who rode for Swindon Robins from 1972-8, lost his battle with cancer at Prospect Hospice on Wednesday evening.

He was known for his career on the track in the 1960s and '70s alongside biking legend and brother Martin, who helped Great Britain secure two coveted World Team Cups.

David, who lived in Moredon, rode for the Robins and had brief spells at the Peterborough Panthers and Milton Keynes Knights.

Martin, 71, a member of Robins’ 1967 British title-winning side, has fond memories of the brothers honing their craft at the Golden Arrow Garage outside Marlborough.

“David saw me riding on my first bike which my dad built for me and he wanted to have a go,” he said. “We loved riding together and we were always very close.”

The former Great Britain squad member said there was no rivalry between the biking brothers.

He said: “When I would watch him I was very proud but I was always worried that he would have an accident.

“I was really concerned that he would have a spill, I just looked out for him because you always worry about your younger brother.

“He was a very gentle person and very kind.”

David combined his racing with fatherhood to sons Lee, 38, and Jamie, 34.

His devastated son Lee said his thrill-seeking father and uncle Martin quickly gained a reputation in the town.

“They were well-known in Swindon. People used to idolise them,” he said.

“It was a lot more dangerous in the 60s and 70s. They didn’t have the safety equipment they have these days.

“He broke pretty much every bone in his body for Swindon. He had so many accidents staff at the Princess Margaret Hospital knew he liked two sugars in his tea.”

In 1979 David made the difficult decision to get off his bike for good and become a motorcycle mechanic.

The pair’s sons Jonathan and Lee have followed in their fathers’ bike tracks by mastering the sport of motocross.

In later years grandfather-of-eight David stayed true to his greatest passion and acted as mentor and mechanic to eldest son Lee.

“He was so clever too, clever about mechanics. We never had to go to a garage or anything,” Lee said.

Despite successes on and off the track Lee said his father remained humble.

“He was quite reserved. He always liked to try and keep under the radar,” he said.

“He was a very gentle man. Everybody has a good tale to tell about him.

"Now he’s gone I don’t want him to go under the radar. I want to get his name out there.

“Your parents are always there for you. It’s hard to imagine life without them. It’s hard to think he’s not going to be there any more.”