Tributes paid to proud father

TRIBUTES have been paid to a proud Suffolk father who was flying home to see his newborn son when he was killed in the North Sea helicopter crash.Operations technician David Graves, 33, from Beccles, was one of the 11 men who died when their Sikorsky helicopter crashed in the sea on Tuesday.

TRIBUTES have been paid to a proud Suffolk father who was flying home to see his newborn son when he was killed in the North Sea helicopter crash.

Operations technician David Graves, 33, from Beccles, was one of the 11 men who died when their Sikorsky helicopter crashed in the sea on Tuesday.

He had completed a two week shift on a Shell Expro rig and was flying home to see his wife Sharon, daughter Arabella, two, and four-week-old son Joshua.

His wife of four years was said to be "distraught" and too upset to comment at the family home in Beccles.


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His family said in a statement: "He was a wonderful husband and a fantastic daddy."

Mr Graves whose body has still not been found worked 15 years for Shell after being taken on as a teenage apprentice.

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A family friend said: "He usually worked two weeks on and two weeks off so he had a fortnight with his son before he died. He was very happily married and had been very excited about the birth of his baby - just like any other young father.

"He was just heading home and looking forward to spending some relaxing time with his family when the accident happened.

"Sharon is now having to come to terms with is death. She is distraught and it is a very emotional time for his whole family.

"She is being comforted by family and friends. They are consoling each other. David was a very well liked person with numerous friends."

For Mr Graves' parents, his death marks a double tragedy - they lost his brother in a car crash just four years ago.

His mother still visits the site of the accident in Brampton, near Halesworth, to mourn her son.

Family and friends paid tribute to the "fantastic daddy" his rugby club team mates nicknamed "Wildy" for his trademark long hair and lolloping run.

Ian Johnstone , president of Beccles Rugby Club, described Mr Graves, who lived in the town, as a "fantastic" friend and "super fit" player.

"He was just one of those great, well respected people. He had a young family he loved and who he was always talking about.

"He was a real family man and he was one of the lads, a good laugh and everyone enjoyed his company."

The helicopter pilot whose body is also missing has been named as Captain Philip Mark Wake who lived with his partner Wendy Murray at their riding stables in Strumpshall near Norwich.

The others whose bodies have still not been found are helicopter co-pilot Phillip Dearden, 32, of Norwich, Shell Expro operations supervisor Geoffrey Bisphan, 51, of North Walsham, Norfolk, who had worked for the firm for 22 years, instrument technician Douglas Learwood, 40, of Middlesborough, technician sub-contractor Paul Francis, 48, of Norwich.

The five victims whose bodies were recovered soon after the helicopter crashed were senior Amac engineer Philip George Stone, 53, of Norwich, technician Kevin John Taylor, 50, of Norwich, draughtsman Stuart Coggon, 45, of Middlesbrough, surveyor Angus MacArthur, 38, of Maryburgh, Ross-Shire and oil field medic Denis Andrew Kelleher, 40, of Lytham St Anne's, Lancashire.

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