Tributes to painter Martin Walczak after a fatal bicycle accident on Rolfenden Lane near Tenterden

Tributes to painter Martin Walczak after a fatal bicycle accident on Rolfenden Lane near Tenterden

A heartbroken family have paid tribute to their “adventurous” father and husband after a fatal bike accident.

Martin Walczak, of Appledore Road in Tenterden, fell from his bike due to a car door.

Martin Walczak, of Tenterden, with his wife, Jane.  Photo: Jane Walczak
Martin Walczak, of Tenterden, with his wife, Jane. Photo: Jane Walczak

He tried to avoid it, but he fell and hit his jaw and neck on the bottom of the door.

The 65-year-old was born in Rolfenden and has lived in the Ashford area for most of his life.

Jonathan Walczak, Martin’s son, says he feels “robbed” by his father: “The fact that he did not experience the later life he had hoped and planned for is very upsetting.

“Death is a sad thing for many families, but people often have years to process and cope with someone’s death before it happens.

“We’ve got about two days.

The 65-year-old has been described as very active, independent and adventurous.  Photo: Jane Walczak
The 65-year-old has been described as very active, independent and adventurous. Photo: Jane Walczak

He was incredibly independent and an outdoors person.

“He was also a big fan of disco. When we wheeled him into the anesthesia room before his final operation, we played Lionel Richie, the Commodores and T-Rex – his favourites.”

The father of two was nearing retirement and had planned how he would spend it.

Sons Andrew and Jonathan (left) with parents Martin and Jane Walczak.  Photo: Jane Walczak
Sons Andrew and Jonathan (left) with parents Martin and Jane Walczak. Photo: Jane Walczak

“He wanted to go out to Australia to watch England play Ashes cricket,” Jonathan explained. “He wanted to continue cycling, gardening and attending football matches.

“One of the things he wanted to do with his mother was to get a van and drive around all the major settlements and cities in the UK.

“Because he was fit, healthy and adventurous, he wanted to use all his free time to explore parts of the world.

“He never had that opportunity.”

At around midday on Sunday, March 24, Martin was out for a bike ride Along Maitham Road in Rolvenden Layne.

The accident happened in Meatham Road, Rolfenden Lane.  Image: Google
The accident happened in Maytham Road, Rolfenden Lane. Image: Google

He was approaching The Ewe & Lamb pub when the accident happened.

“He made a bad cut,” Jonathan added. “The wound was not good, it looked very bloody.

“We were under the impression it was close. It was close to the carotid artery, and my mother, who was a nurse, knew that much.

After he returned home, his wife, Jane, performed some first aid and monitored him for the rest of the afternoon.

A father of two children died after a freak bicycle accident.  Photo: Jane Walczak
A father of two children died after a freak bicycle accident. Photo: Jane Walczak

The painter and decorator was a little dazed and said he had a headache, but it was nothing serious.

At around 8.30pm, Martin suffered what appeared to be a stroke and was immediately taken to William Harvey Hospital.

It was later found that he was suffering from a brain hemorrhage. A clot formed in the carotid artery, causing bleeding in the brain.

He underwent overnight surgery to try to remove the clot.

On Monday, the family was told the damage was extensive, and he would never be able to live day to day the same again.

Martin was interested in football from a young age.  Photo: Jane Walczak
Martin was interested in football from a young age. Photo: Jane Walczak

“We agreed that quality of life is more important than quantity,” said Jane Walczak, Martin’s wife.

“We would regularly talk about what would happen when the time came, but I never imagined it would happen so quickly.

“It was a catastrophic brain injury. The doctors explained how he would not be able to speak, suffer from cognitive deficits and be completely immobile.

Jane worked as a theater nurse at Tunbridge Wells Hospital for more than two decades.

The couple met through a dating agency and have been married for 31 years.

Family photo at Jonathan's graduation.  Photo: Jane Walczak
Family photo at Jonathan’s graduation. Photo: Jane Walczak

Martin died on Thursday (March 28) at 1.20am, after being taken off life support at the Royal London Infirmary.

Martin was a self-employed painter and decorator – known as MJ Walczak – who had worked in the trade for more than 35 years.

When he was younger, he played for football clubs in Rolvenden, Tenterden and Watersham, as well as cricket for Stone-in-Oxney.

He leaves behind his wife Jane, his sons Jonathan and Andrew, his brothers Michael, Philip and Thomas, as well as his sister Maureen.

Martin had previously agreed to donate organs, and on the day of his death, doctors were able to use all of his kidneys, liver and heart valves to perform a life-saving transplant.

Jonathan hopes to encourage others to sign up and spend more time with their families.

“I want people to appreciate their fathers and fathers, embrace them and make them realize how important it is to have a good parent,” he said.

“It makes me so happy to think that the worst day of our lives can be someone’s best day.”

“He always expressed and acknowledged that at the end of the day if he was involved in something terrible, he would want someone’s son or daughter to have another chance.

“It makes me so happy to think that the worst day of our lives can be someone’s best day.”

The crash is being investigated by the Serious Collision Investigation Unit (SCIU) and officers are appealing for witnesses to come forward.

Dashcam footage can be submitted here.

Anyone with CCTV should also call the SCIU Witness Appeal Line on 01622 798538 or email sciu.td@kent.police.uk quoting HM/032/24.

    (tags for translation) Ashford 

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