Hope ends for man swept away by tsunami

THE devastating effects of the Asian tsunami disaster hit home in a close-knit East Anglian community yesterday as reports circulated that a popular villager caught up in the disaster had died.

THE devastating effects of the Asian tsunami disaster hit home in a close-knit East Anglian community yesterday as reports circulated that a popular villager caught up in the disaster had died.

Stuart Shields, a keen amateur footballer, was swimming in the Indian Ocean off the coast of the Maldives with his wife Tanya when he was swept away in the massive tidal wave which has so far claimed 100,000 lives.

It is understood the 37-year-old's wife, from Ridgewell, on Suffolk's border with Essex, made a distressed telephone call to her mother on Wednesday to confirm the businessman's death.

He is believed to have been enjoying the first week of a three-week holiday when the tragedy struck.


You may also want to watch:


News of his death has left the tight-knit community of Ridgewell, which boasts a population of around 400, in a state of shock and devastation.

The Rev Michael Hewitt, who married the couple at the Church of St Lawrence seven years ago, said Mrs Shields had spoken to her mother to say she was alive and well but that Stuart had died.

Most Read

Mr Hewitt said Mrs Shields was now waiting to fly home.

“I spoke to Tania's mother yesterday and she said Stuart had drowned and Tania would be flying home as soon as she can get a flight.” he added.

“They were a very nice couple, well liked and well known in the village. Stuart played for the local football team and was coaching until quite recently.

“They both ran a stall at last year's village fete. They had a successful marriage and went on a lot of holidays.

The couple had flown out to the Maldives a few days before the disaster for a three-week holiday over Christmas and the New Year.

“It just brings it home to you. You see it on the television and you feel for the people but they are miles away, but when someone from the village is killed it makes you realise the world is such a small place,” Mr Hewitt said

Last night one villager, who did not wish to be named. “Stuart was a very popular member of the village community and would do anything for anybody

“This news has left everyone deeply shocked. Every time you saw Stuart he would have a smile on his face, and he and Tania were devoted to each other.”

Mr Shields and his wife, who is believed to be 34, were initially declared missing in the aftermath of the disaster.

Mr Shields was a former pupil at Hedingham School and Thurrock College, and was heavily involved with Ridgewell's football team.

It is understood he worked as a senior manager for a national company, and also had experience in sales and marketing. It is not thought the couple had any children.

The news of his death came as the number of Britons killed in the disaster rose to at least 28. Also among those who lost their lives is James Hurren, 22, of Caister in Norfolk, who was visiting the Thai island of Koh Phi Phi.

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter