Family's tribute to tragic angler

By Rebecca Sheppard and Danielle NuttallTHE family of a fisherman who was one of two men to be pulled dead from a lake believe he was the victim of a tragic accident.

By Rebecca Sheppard and Danielle Nuttall

THE family of a fisherman who was one of two men to be pulled dead from a lake believe he was the victim of a tragic accident.

Divers pulled the body of Mark Shave, from Needham Market, from the waters of a popular fishing lake in Wraysbury, near Windsor, at about noon on Monday.

A search had been launched for the 32-year-old after the body of his regular fishing companion, Mark Bennett, 40, from Horley, Surrey, was found on New Year's Eve.

The alarm had been raised at the lake earlier that day after the pair went missing and a sunken rowing boat was seen.

Thames Valley Police said they were continuing to treat both deaths as unexplained at the moment.

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A statement issued last night on behalf of Mr Shave's family said: “The area had experienced strong winds on the evening the pair disappeared.

“We understand that police are unsure as to why the boat capsized and they are currently continuing their inquiries into this matter. However, it is our belief that it is likely to have been a tragic accident.

“A post-mortem is due to be held on Wednesday and we do not expect this to reveal any suspicious circumstances.”

Mr Shave's family said he had been a keen amateur angler and had often fished at Wraysbury.

“He had enjoyed fishing since a teenager and it was a sport he was passionately involved in, having many friends in the angling fraternity,” they added.

“His catches often appeared in popular fishing magazines and he had recently written a chapter in a book of fishing exploits called Carping Uncut, published by his best friend Jim Shelley.

“Mark was also a qualified electrician, well respected in the trade, and had worked for Lark Electrical for the majority of his working life.

“Mark's family and long-term partner Ruth are devastated by their sudden and tragic loss, but are comforted by the fact that Mark died doing what he loved.”

Members of the carp-fishing community have also expressed their shock at the double tragedy.

Bryn Abbott, of Birds Fishing Tackle in Great Blakenham, where Mr Shave used to buy his fishing equipment, said: “When the wind blows up, it can get really, really choppy. For anyone out on a boat, it's really bad. You need a lifejacket on all the while.

“It goes to highlight, you really have got to watch what you are doing when you're fishing. It's a pleasurable pastime. You don't expect to die from it.”

Richard Young, secretary of the Gipping Angling Preservation Society, added: “It's sad. I don't know the circumstances, but people will be shocked and surprised.”

One of Mr Shave's neighbours also paid their tribute to him, saying he was a friendly man who spent much of his free time pursuing his fishing passion.

Emma Wells added: “He would always say hello, and he would always be polite.”

The 120-acre Wraysbury Lake, an old gravel pit, is one of the most famous in the country, with depths ranging from about one metre to 4.5 metres.

Experienced and specialist anglers are attracted to the site, where the former British record carp was caught, and it also boasts sizeable tench, bream and eels.

The syndicate venue, which offers fishing for a limited membership who pay for a yearly ticket, is run by RMC Angling.

Ian Welch, angling manager at the company and director of the Carp Society, said: “We received a call from an angler that was on the lake on December 31 concerned that they had not seen two anglers known to be on the site fishing.

“On instruction from us they called the police. Myself and my assistant met the police on the site and the police brought in a search helicopter and called in the fire brigade's search and rescue team.”

He added: “This is the first incident on our waters. Certainly there have been incidents in the past at other places, but thankfully it is very rare. As far as angling is concerned, generally it is a very safe sport.

“The reaction from the angling world is one of shock. Whenever anything like this happens, it is so rare that it brings people back down to earth with a bang. Anglers are aware that they fish around water that can be dangerous.

“It is very, very sad for the friends and family of the two Marks. Our thoughts and sympathies are with them at this time.”

Mr Welch said the company was waiting on the outcome of the police inquiry before any decision was taken as regards to safety measures at the lake.

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