Tributes paid to diver

TRIBUTES have been paid to an enthusiastic diver from Topsham who died of a suspected heart attack. Paul Leyland, 51, was diving near Berry Head, Brixham, where he is thought to have suffered an attack on Sunday, April 26. He was rescued by air ambulan

TRIBUTES have been paid to an enthusiastic diver from Topsham who died of a suspected heart attack.

Paul Leyland, 51, was diving near Berry Head, Brixham, where he is thought to have suffered an attack on Sunday, April 26.

He was rescued by air ambulance who took him to Derbyshire Hospital in Plymouth where he died in the evening. Paul had worked as an anaesthetic nurse at the Royal Devon & Exeter Hospital.

Peter Vickery, a colleague of Paul's and divisional manager for trauma & orthopaedics and critical care, said: "All of the staff were shocked and distraught at the news.


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"He was an operating department practitioner in our theatres and, as such, was a senior and experienced member of our team."

Peter said that Paul was extremely good at his job and popular with those who he worked with.

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He added: "His passing will leave a large hole in the team and our thoughts and condolences go to his partner Gillian and to his family."

Adrian Kelland, diving officer at Exeter's BSAC branch and a close friend of Paul, said: "I first met him about eight years ago. He was probably the person who I dived most with.

"News of his death came as a total shock - it was not what I would have expected at all. He was a good diver and completed over 3,000 dives."

Adrian said people from the Cardiff University and Totnes BSAC clubs were involved with the rescue. "Those people deserve a lot of thanks for their actions," he added.

"The members who were with him at the time are really shocked and feeling it at the moment. I'm going to miss him. We chatted a lot and would dive together outside of club time."

Liz Hodges, owner of the Globe pub on Fore Street, Topsham, and a friend of Paul, said the town's community who knew him were "absolutely gutted" to have heard of his death.

"He was one of our regular customers which was how I got to know him. It is so sad what happened - everyone got to know him over the years."

Liz explained he was a kind of person who was easy to get along with.

She recalled: "We once had a customer in the pub who collapsed and because he (Paul) was a nurse, was the first person to go over and help. He was a caring man."

Another shocked friend, Brian Williams, 75, of Pound Lane, Topsham, explained: "Paul and Gillian lived near me for quite a while before moving home - he was a great man.

"Ten years ago, in 1999, I had a hip transplant and it just so happened that Paul wheeled me into the theatre and gave me the anaesthetic. He was a cheerful, lovely chap.

"Everybody who knew him was really upset. He was a jovial character," said Brian.

An inquest at Plymouth Coroner's Court into Mr Leyland's death was opened and adjourned last Monday, May 4.

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