A FORMER soldier died after losing control of his motorbike and hitting a road sign.

Thomas Robert Simpson, 26, was travelling towards Padiham on the A678 Burnley Road at Altham, yesterday morning, when the accident happened outside the Walton Arms.

Police said the former Duke of Lancaster Regiment soldier lost control, came off the bike and smashed into a traffic sign.

Ambulance crews were called to the scene by police just before 8am but Mr Simpson, from the Ewood area of Blackburn, was pronounced dead at the scene.

A family tribute said: “Thomas was a bright and articulate young man who was well-loved by his family and he loved them all very much too.

“He had an insatiable thirst for life and will be sadly missed.”

Sgt Jon Allwright from the road policing unit said Burnley Road had been closed between its junctions with Altham Lane and Simonstone Lane until 10.15am to allow accident investigation work to take place.

He said: “This is a tragic accident and a horrific start to 2013.

“We deployed a specially trained family liaison officer who is supporting the family and next of kin at this time and our condolences and thoughts are with them.”

Hyndburn Council leader Coun Miles Parkinson, who represents the Altham ward, said he was saddened by the news.

He said: “Any loss of life, especially at this time of year, is desperately sad.

“My thoughts are with the family.”

Coun Parkinson said there had been problems on the road in the past, but not at that location.

He said: “Further up the road can be dangerous and when it is wet and icy there can be accidents.

“There have previously been some very serious incidents but it is unusual it has happened in the village.

“I am sure the police will investigate and find out why this happened but that will be no consolation to the family.”

Landlord of the Walton Arms, Gary Taylor, said he was not used to accidents happening outside the pub.

He said: “We have been here 15 years now and there has only been one accident near the pub in that time, although I think that resulted in a death.

“Then there was a problem with the road but that has been fixed now.”

In October, 2008, a motorcyclist was killed after his bike hit a lamppost on the road.

Anyone with information about the accident is asked to call police on 101 quoting log 1369 of January 1.