Thursday 18 December 2014

Father who died saving drowning children is honoured

Emma Clark and Emma Sword

Published 12/01/2014 | 11:12

Andrew Priestley, from Leicestershire, died in hospital after getting into difficulty at Burrill Beach
Andrew Priestley, from Leicestershire, died in hospital after getting into difficulty at Burrill Beach

The family of a man who died after rescuing his two children from drowning in Australia have said he was "the most amazing father".

Andrew Priestley, from Leicestershire, died in hospital after getting into difficulty at Burrill Beach - around 155 miles south of Sydney on Australia's east coast.

A statement released by the Foreign Office on behalf of the family said it was "heartbreakingly impossible" to imagine life without him.

The 44-year-old was on holiday with his family when his two sons got caught in strong currents at the beauty spot.

After entering the water and rescuing the children, it is believed Mr Priestley may have suffered a heart attack.

The statement said: "The family of Andrew are devastated about his death in Australia. He died after saving his children.

"Andrew was the most amazing husband and father that any family could wish for. He adored his family and we adored him.

"The support and messages we have received have been overwhelming and we are thankful for that.

"It is heartbreakingly impossible at this moment to imagine our lives without him.

"We would ask that our privacy is respected at such a sad time."

Australian police said the man's children were uninjured. A report is now being prepared for the coroner.

A statement from New South Wales Police Force released on Friday said: "Emergency services were called to Burrill Beach just after midday, where they found a man unconscious.

"The 44-year-old was taken to Milton Hospital where he was pronounced dead.

"Officers from Shoalhaven Local Area Command attended and were told the man, a British tourist, got into difficulty after attempting to rescue his two sons who were caught in a rip.

"His sons were not injured."

A spokesman for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office said the family was being offered consular assistance.

Tributes were also paid by a football club in Market Harborough, Leicestershire, where Mr Priestley's two sons played.

In a statement on their website, Borough Alliance FC said they would hold a minute's silence before their matches today.

The club said: "Andrew Priestley tragically died saving his sons in a swimming accident in Australia. For many years Andrew was a regular figure at the club where his sons Matthew and Daniel played.

"Our thoughts go out to his wife Amanda, the boys and his daughter Amelia."

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