Tributes have poured in after a Cumbrian man with an ‘absolute heart of gold’ was killed in a crash the day before his 58th birthday.
Stephen Kitching, known as “Kitch” to many, lived in Well Ings, Kendal for most of his life.
He was a coach driver for The Travellers Choice and was involved in the three-vehicle collision on the M1 in Hertfordshire on Sunday 30 January.
Mr Kitching’s niece Katie Dixon led the multitude of tributes
“Kitch was truly one in a million, a huge character,” she said.
“If you knew him then you know what I mean, if you don’t then you truly missed out.
“Kitch went out of his way to make everyone he met belly laugh even on their darkest days with his quick wit and dark humour paired perfectly with one of the biggest hearts.
“His generosity was out of this world. He touched more hearts than he will ever know.
“He’s now joined his Mum, Dad and brother Paul who were all taken too soon.
“He’s left behind his two sisters Annette Kitching and Dawn Dixon and his nieces and nephews and hundreds of friends across the county.
“A special thanks to all of his work friends at Travellers Choice who have overwhelmed us with their kindness and support and to every single person who reached out or has said kind words.
“He would be laughing at us all up there calling us soppy sods.
“Kitch is forever in our hearts. Our memories with him will replay in our minds forever.”
Mr Kitching’s colleague and friend Ryan Howard, who has set up a Justgiving page to support Mr Kitching’s family through this difficult time, spoke of his shock and also reflected on some of the fond memories they had shared on the page.
“Well I never thought I’d be writing this, but RIP Stephen Kitching.
“What a loss for everyone who had the privilege of working along side you and calling you a mate.
“Think I speak for everyone saying we will all miss your sense of humour, your one-liners, your heart of gold and your honest and mostly brutal advice!
“I will be forever thankful for all you have taught me – rest in peace my friend!
“Thank you for the everlasting memories. A week in the Alps with you last week, good night last night then you get taken this morning.
“Crack open a can it’s time to rest. You will be forever in our hearts”
The Travellers Choice, the coach company that Mr Kitching worked for, paid this tribute: “Yesterday was a tragic day for many.
“We sadly lost one of our team – Stephen Kitching.
“Kitch was very much a ‘once seen – never forgotten’ type of guy with an absolute heart of gold.
“He would go out of his way to help others – a true gentleman who will be greatly missed by many.
“Tacho on rest now buddy.
“Good night, God bless.”
A Hertfordshire Constabulary spokesperson said: “The incident occurred on the northbound carriageway, between junction 8 for Hemel Hempstead and junction 9 for Redbourn, just before 5.25am.
“A lorry, a coach and a silver Volkswagen Polo were involved.
“Sadly, the driver of the coach, a man aged in his 50s, died at the scene.
“His next of kin have been informed.
“A 29-year-old woman has been arrested on suspicion of driving above the alcohol limit and causing death by dangerous driving.
“Our enquiries are continuing to establish the circumstances around what happened and we are appealing for any witnesses who haven’t yet spoken to police to please come forward.”
The JustGiving page can be found at www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/kitch