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Tributes paid to former British Sidecar Championships winner Carl Bell from Maidstone

A former British biking champion has died aged 49.

Loving tributes have been paid to Carl Bell, from Maidstone, who won a cup at the British Sidecar Championships, alongside Tony "Char" Penfold, in 2004.

Carl Bell had a passion for motorcycles
Carl Bell had a passion for motorcycles

Mr Bell, who worked as a builder, had testicular cancer and had been receiving chemotherapy but also caught Covid-19 in March.

A doctor at Maidstone Hospital noted these conditions could have both led to Mr Bell's death, as well as a lung disease called pulmonary fibrosis, a collapsed lung and multiple organ failure, a coroner has heard.

Mr Bell's wife, Belinda, says her husband first went into hospital with stomach pains in June 2019 but was told they were caused by his appendix, which was removed.

It wasn't until late November that Mr Bell was diagnosed with cancer. Two days on, he began his first round of chemotherapy.

In March, he had an operation to remove the tumours and a kidney but while recovering he caught Covid-19.

Tony "Char" Penfold and Carl Bell with their cup in 2004
Tony "Char" Penfold and Carl Bell with their cup in 2004

After seemingly not having any symptoms of the virus, Mr Bell started another round of chemotherapy, as the cancer had spread to other parts of his body.

He was still receiving treatment when he was admitted to Maidstone Hospital with kidney failure in late May.

A week later, he was transferred to ICU with difficulty breathing and put on a ventilation machine.

Mr Bell decided to stop his treatment after 13 days in intensive care and died on Friday, June 12.

An inquest into Mr Bell's death was opened on Monday. A full inquest will be heard on September 2.

Mr Bell got into sidecar racing at an early age
Mr Bell got into sidecar racing at an early age

Born in Lincolnshire, Mr Bell moved to West Malling as a child.

In his teenage years, he used to DJ, hosting 80s and disco nights across Kent.

Besides a short stint in a banana warehouse, Mr Bell spent most of his working life as a builder.

Mrs Bell, 51, said: "He loved his job and was very pernickety about it - everything had to be perfect."

But his true passion was motorbike racing.

Belinda and Carl Bell married in 2016
Belinda and Carl Bell married in 2016

"He got into sidecars at an early age as two of his uncles were into it. It's pretty mad as you have to totally put your trust in someone else," said Mrs Bell.

As his love of the sport grew, Mr Bell began competing, and was crowned winner of the left-hand 1000cc grass track race at the British Sidecar Championships in 2004, alongside various other accolades over the years.

Bonding over a shared obsession with motorbikes, Mrs Bell met her husband online in 2012 and the pair married four years later at Brands Hatch Place Hotel.

"It was the nearest we could get to a racetrack. We even had to have a short honeymoon because he wanted to come back for a race but then we had a proper holiday afterwards in France," she said.

After the couple met, Mr Bell started racing on his own instead of in the sidecar and was frequently spotted zooming around the track at Brands Hatch.

"I thought he was too good to be true when I met him, I thought, any day now, I'll find a flaw but I didn't..."

He was very into health and fitness, cycling in between motorbike sessions, but did have a guilty pleasure - cake.

Mrs Bell said: "He never drank or smoked and his only weakness was cake."

She added: "The fact he was so healthy is one of the hardest things about it all."

Mrs Bell remembers the couple's last trip out together before her husband's operation in March was a Skatonics concert in Aylesford.

"We decided to kick up the town as we knew Carl wouldn't be able to do much for about six months after his operation," she said.

Mr Bell passed away aged 49
Mr Bell passed away aged 49

Tributes to Superman, (which many family members and friends often referred to Mr Bell as because of how he handled his treatment), were seen at his funeral on Monday, for which people lined the streets as the hearse passed.

"He was a warrior throughout his treatment - he would never complain. He used to say one in two people get cancer and he was glad he was the one of us who got it," said Mrs Bell.

She added: "I thought he was too good to be true when I met him, I thought, any day now, I'll find a flaw but I didn't - he was just such a lovely guy. He would do anything for anyone."

Mr Bell also leaves behind his son, Aaron Bell, two step-daughters, Emma Slater and Rebecca Broughton and three grandchildren, James-Justin, Harry and Brooke.

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