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Torquay boat tragedy fisherman 'brilliant dad who was always first to help others'

By Herald Express  |  Posted: February 07, 2013

Andy Westaway

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THE father of a fisherman who died in a boat tragedy off Torquay has paid tribute to his 'brilliant son'.

Terry Westaway has also described son Andy as a 'brilliant dad who was always the first to help others'.

Mr Westaway said Andy had loved the sea and loved fishing throughout his entire life.

He died when his JCK fishing boat sank in atrocious weather conditions and rough seas in Babbacombe Bay.

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Mr Westaway believes: "As far as I know, Andy was bailing the boat out. A wave hit the side of the boat when he was not expecting it and pushed him.

"He banged his head on the side and must have been disorientated. He must have stood up and went overboard."

The 46-year-old father-of-two was fishing for herring and mackerel on board the open deck 19ft JCK.

Mr Westaway, himself a fisherman for many decades, said Andy loved the freedom of the sea and being his own boss.

He said: "Fishing was his true passion. Andy has been fishing since he was six.

"When he was 10 he caught a fish and there was an old £1 note rolled inside. That gave him the idea there was money to be made in fishing."

Andy was born in Torquay. He went to Shiphay Primary school, then Audley Park, now the Torquay Academy.

He worked as a paperboy and in the Wimpy bar on the Torquay harbour side before getting a job as a cafe supervisor in Debenhams.

He went into the building trade with his father and his uncle Bill, who all worked on the Fleet Walk project.

Andy was also a porter in the Toorak Hotel and rose to the post of under manager.

Mr Westaway said: "Andy was always well thought of by everyone he met or worked for.

"He's the one who got me into fishing. We were working on Fleet Walk and he said we should get a boat."

Mr Westaway said the JCK was the family's fourth boat and Andy was working on a fifth one which was slightly bigger.

He said: "Andy was always safety conscious, but he never wore the lifejacket because it restricted his movement. Most of the fishermen don't for that reason."

Andy was married to Kathryn for 22 years and they lived in Shiphay with daughters Charlotte, 16 and Samantha, 10.

Mr Westaway said: "Andy was a brilliant son and a brilliant dad.

"He loved music, rock and folk and went to Glastonbury Festival on many occasions.

"Andy started going to karate with Samantha about 12 months ago. He went from white belt to almost green in that time. They were really impressed with him and they asked him if he would help out as a teacher.

"That's just typical of Andy. He would always help other people out."

Andy was very close to his brother, Stuart, who died of cancer two-and-a-half years ago. Both were real characters when growing up.

Andy and Stuart became West Ham and Chelsea supporters respectively despite their father's efforts to take them to Plainmoor to watch Torquay United.

Mr Westaway says he is extremely grateful to those involved in the search for his son's body, including three RNLI boats, the cliff rescue teams, the navy and coastguard helicopters and the fishermen who searched the shoreline.

He said: "We will all miss him. I will remember him like this photo, with a huge fish in his hands or fishing with me.

"I will remember the days when every time we put down we got a fish when everyone else around didn't catch a single fish.

"Andy was a character with everyone. He was a mate."

A funeral service for Andy will take place on Monday, February 11, at 2.45pm at Torquay Crematorium.

The family have asked that only family members, close friends and the fishing community attend the actual service to ensure there is enough room, with family flowers only, donations to the RNLI and no formal wear required.

Everybody is being invited to a reception at the Devon Dumpling pub in Shiphay straight after the service.

An inquest into Andy's death has been opened.

South Devon and Torbay coroner Ian Arrow said that on Monday, January 28, the self-employed fisherman was alone in his boat the JCK and was returning to Torquay to land his catch.

The weather conditions were very bad and it is believed that his boat may have sunk.

A major search was carried out and during the early hours of Tuesday January 29, Mr Westaway's body was recovered from the sea near Thatcher Rock.

His boat has yet to be located and the suspected cause of death is drowning. There are no suspicious circumstances.

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