Firefighter biker and friend died in crashes months apart

Andrew Dunleavey, 32, and Robert Burgess, 31. Picture: supplied
Andrew Dunleavey, 32, and Robert Burgess, 31. Picture: supplied
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RELATIVES of a firefighter who was killed in a motorbike crash said they have been left “rocked” by his death, as it emerged he was friends with a biker who died in similar circumstances just four months earlier.

Robert Burgess, from North Berwick, was involved in a collision with a car in his home town on Saturday morning.

Robert Burgess. Picture: supplied

Robert Burgess. Picture: supplied

Last year, Mr Burgess had been a pall-bearer at the funeral of close friend Andrew Dunleavey – also a firefighter and greenkeeper – who was killed when his motorbike collided with a Lotus just outside Aberlady.

Mr Burgess’ family paid tribute to the 31-year-old in a statement released through police.

They said: “Robert was a loving and caring son who will be sadly missed by friends and family. His untimely passing has rocked us all and we are in a state of shock as we come to terms with what has happened.

“Robert always gave his all in anything he did including working as a retained firefighter, which he loved.

Robert was a loving and caring son who will be sadly missed by friends and family. His untimely passing has rocked us all and we are in a state of shock as we come to terms with what has happened.

Robert Burgess’ family

“He was also a keen motorcyclist and had a wide circle of friends. His loss has left us devastated and we ask for peace to grieve at this very difficult time.”

Friends told of their shock at losing Mr Burgess so soon after Mr Dunleavey died.

Myles Cunningham, a golf professional at Whitekirk Golf and Country Club, where Mr Burgess had worked as a greenkeeper, said the men had been “close friends”.

And friend Gavin Fraser posted a poignant photo of the two men together on his Facebook page, writing: “Two friends lost in the same way. Gutting.”

Mr Burgess died after his Yamaha motorcycle was involved in a collision with a Nissan Note on Dirleton Avenue, North Berwick, shortly before 11.30am on Saturday.

Tributes have flooded in on social media.

Danny Milazzo spoke of “Two decent boys in a matter of months”, while Ian Hannah added: “Doing what they loved. RIP to them both.”

And Michelle Skee said: “Genuinely nice guy, taken far too soon.” Paul Fraser added: “Top bloke, will be sorely missed.”

Meanwhile, serving colleagues in the fire service also paid tribute to Mr Burgess.

Alasdair Perry, local senior officer for Midlothian, East Lothian and Scottish Borders, said: “We are deeply saddened by the tragic death of our colleague Robert Burgess. Robert served with the retained crew at North Berwick Fire Station in East Lothian and was a popular and much respected firefighter who was dedicated to serving his community.

“He was a dear member of the fire and rescue service family and will be very much missed. Our thoughts are with all of Robert’s family and friends at this very sad time.”

The driver of the car involved in the crash was unhurt.

john.connell@edinburghnews.com