Former Para endurance swimmer drowned at sea

Lawrence Gibbs, 56, of Lowestoft, was found on a beach in Kessingland on November 9, 2018 Picture: S

Lawrence Gibbs, 56, of Lowestoft, was found on a beach in Kessingland on November 9, 2018 Picture: SUFFOLK CONSTABULARY - Credit: Archant

An ex-army endurance swimmer found on the beach in Kessingland accidentally drowned at sea, an inquest has concluded.

Former paratrooper Lawrence Wyndham Gibbs, 56, of Willow Road, Lowestoft, was last seen swimming in the sea at Pakefield, at around 5pm on October 20.

A couple reported seeing him drift away from the coast and a full scale search was launched.

Boats from coastguard stations along the Suffolk coast were drafted in to support the search, along with helicopters looking as far as eight miles out to sea for any signs of Mr Gibbs.

His body was found around two miles away in Kessingland on November 9, 2018.

Mr Gibbs, know to family and friends as Laurie, was taken to James Paget Hospital where dental records were used to identify him.

Having initially opened the inquest into his death on January 7 this year, Mr Gibbs' family and friends returned to hear the coroners conclusion on May 16.

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In a statement submitted to the court, his daughter, 26-year-old Katie Kenward-Gibbs, said how proud he was of his time in the Parachute Regiment, where he was explosives expert.

She said: "Even after he left the regiment he had so much energy.

"We had made plans to visit the dry slopes on the weekends, I am moving into a new home and have DIY job that he had been happy to help with.

"I could not have imagined I would be without a dad aged 26."

Miss Kenward-Gibbs also thanked the people who helped search for her father - the coastguard, the RNLI and volunteers from the community.

Senior coroner for Suffolk, Nigel Parsley, confirmed the cause of Mr Gibbs' death as drowning.

Mr Parsley also confirmed the incident was not anything but a "tragic accident".

Miss Kenward-Gibbs' mother, Margaret Kenward, also submitted a letter, describing how involved Mr Gibbs was in his daughters life, even after they separated when Katie was younger.

"We remained good friends and stayed in regular contact, he supported Katie by paying for her education. He always felt he could talk to me," she said.

"I had no reason or concern for his safety that morning, he had always been a very fit and strong man, he was once described as the fittest in his regiment."