Tribute to tragic rescuer
FRIENDS of a hero Suffolk lifeboatman, who is believed to have died trying to rescue his stepfather spoke of their "deep shock" at the double tragedy.Charlie Buckenham, a member of Lowestoft's lifeboat crew, and his stepfather Brian Dove, were found dead in a disused fuel tank after a seven-hour operation involving emergency services.
FRIENDS of a hero Suffolk lifeboatman, who is believed to have died trying to rescue his stepfather spoke of their "deep shock" at the double tragedy.
Charlie Buckenham, a member of Lowestoft's lifeboat crew, and his stepfather Brian Dove, were found dead in a disused fuel tank after a seven-hour operation involving emergency services.
Mr Buckenham's lifelong friend, Bert Coleman, told how he was waiting to meet him – unaware of the terrible events unfolding at Lake Lothing, in Lowestoft.
Mr Buckenham, 52, and Mr Dove, 55, had been working on the fuel tank when it is suspected they were overcome by fumes.
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An investigation is being carried out into the tragedy, and one theory is that Mr Buckenham may have been trying to rescue his stepfather when he too was overcome.
Mr Coleman said: "That's what I would have expected from Charlie. That's what he would have done."
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He said his friend had always been "completely dependable", and he feared something may have been wrong when he did not turn up.
"I've known Charlie and his family all my life. One thing you could say about him is he was a family man. He doted upon his family," he said.
"He was with me Monday and Tuesday afternoon. I arranged to meet him on Wednesday afternoon just gone 4pm and when he wasn't there I thought something must have gone wrong.
"We were going to do some work on the lifeboat. I received the phone call from his family this morning.
"Things will carry on but he will be extremely difficult to replace. It's been very difficult."
Mr Buckenham, of Hardy Close, Lowestoft, leaves behind a widow, Wendy, and five children. He had worked as a volunteer lifeboatman in Lowestoft for several years.
It is understood Mr Buckenham and Mr Dove, from Burgh Castle, near Great Yarmouth, worked for local marine engineers Small and Co.
An emergency operation was launched shortly after 2pm on Wednesday after ambulance crews received a mobile telephone call from one of the men.
A spokesman for East Anglian Ambulance Service, said: "There was some access to the tanks, and one man went inside to look at it and didn't come out.
"The other man outside phoned for an ambulance and then went inside to look and didn't come out."
Mr Coleman, who is coxswain and mechanic at Lowestoft's lifeboat station, said Mr Buckenham's colleagues had found the past 48 hours extremely difficult, but had tried to carry on with their duties.
"We had an exercise this evening and we were going to cancel it but after some consideration we thought Charlie wouldn't have wanted that," he said.
"He would have wanted things to carry on as normal. He was a very popular guy and he was well liked by the rest of the crew.
"It will take some time for things to settle down. I spoke to one of his brothers this afternoon. They are deeply shocked and the whole family is completely shocked by the events."