Gerard Starck: "A lively, wonderful character"
A French Red Cross volunteer nearing the end of a six-year world motorcycle tour promoting humanitarian goodwill has died in a road crash in Kyrgyzstan.
Gerard Starck, 57, was on the central Asian leg of his tour when his motorbike collided with a car in heavy rain in the south of the country on Sunday.
Since October 1997, he had visited 149 Red Cross and Red Crescent societies across the world on his motorbike, symbolically linking them by passing on gifts and greetings to one another.
"Gerard was a lively, wonderful character who loved adventure," said Denis McClean, a spokesman for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC).
"He had been visiting each society to see the work they were doing, and to give and collect presents and greetings to pass on to the next group he visited."
Days before the crash, Mr Starck visited the Red Crescent society in Kazakhstan and was on his way to Uzbekistan when the accident happened.
Head of the Kazakhstan mission, Dr Erkebek Argymbaev, said: "He shared with us his tireless energy and unquenchable enthusiasm.
"He wanted to show the world the uniqueness of the Red Cross Red Crescent network that links together 179 national societies, and he fulfilled his mission."
Mr Starck, who kept diaries and took photographs of his journey, had clocked up some 200,000 km (124,300 miles) at the time of his death.
He had been due to settle in the French city of Pau with his wife, a French woman he married in February last year after meeting during the Latin American leg of his tour.
He once told Red Cross officials: "The world is much better than it appears on TV screens.
"I haven't seen any aggression, I met warm-hearted people only and I will write a book about the world that is worth seeing through your own eyes".