Shrine to Andrew, taken by the sea

Flower tribute to Andrew McGeown on South bay near the Spa complex. Pic Richard Ponter 150910b
Flower tribute to Andrew McGeown on South bay near the Spa complex. Pic Richard Ponter 150910b
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A seafront shrine has become the focal point for Andrew McGeown’s family and friends to remember the popular roofer who died rescuing his beloved dog from drowning.

The flowers and messages near the accident site are just one of several public tributes to the 32-year-old, who tragically died on Sunday as he selflessly saved his “best friend” Arnold from the freezing North Sea.

An old schoolmate has spray painted a mural of Andrew, while a Facebook page has been set up to remember the man that a friend says was “one in seven billion”.

As his family struggle to cope with the loss, they say they’ve been overwhelmed by the tributes to Andrew – and say his final heroic act summed up the love in his heart for others. “He saved the dog that was his baby, and that was that type of person that he was - he would have done the same even for a stranger,” said sister Donna Loveland, on behalf of his family. Obviously we are devastated beyond what we could ever say, but as heartbreaking as it is, to know that he was so fantastically thought of is incredible.”

His family say he was an adventurer, his friends say he loved life. Both say he was, more than anything, a joker. And the tributes so far have all focussed on his love for laughter and for making others smile.

A Facebook page has been set up, called “Your best Andrew McGeown stories”. On it, the former Scalby School pupil is listed as a comedian.

Andrew McGeown tribute art ,the underpass near Sainsburys on Falsgrave rd. Passersby view the artwork.Pic Richard Ponter 150918b

Andrew McGeown tribute art ,the underpass near Sainsburys on Falsgrave rd. Passersby view the artwork.Pic Richard Ponter 150918b

And the artist behind Andrew’s mural, Andrew Rew Nurse, added: “I painted him as a caricature, as that’s what he was in life – a character.”

Tragedy struck at around 6pm on Sunday night, as stormy seas battered Scarborough.

A friend tried in vain to rescue him, before RNLI volunteers, assisted by a helicopter, scoured the sea in darkness for around 40 minutes for Andrew after he entered the choppy sea near the Spa.

He was eventually recovered and rushed to Scarborough Hospital, but he was pronounced dead.

Andrew McGeown.

Andrew McGeown.

As news broke of his death, friends took to social media to pay tribute to the brother-of-three.

Since then, those closest to the Cloughton man have broken their silence to remember the “red-faced, white-haired joker”.

“He was very warm, and he was hilarious,” said Gareth Oxley, his friend for over two decades.

“He was always the centre of any humour going down and he thrived off that.”

Gareth speaks with pride as he talks about how he set up his own business, taking his younger brother on and teaching him a trade.

“He had family values and liked to look out for those close to him”, said Gareth.

Another friend, Danny Wedge, said Andrew was a “true gentleman”, who was the happiest person he knew.

“I don’t think I ever saw him without a smile on his face, he was always laughing,” said Danny.

“He would lighten the mood in any room he walked into.

“He will be sorely missed by a lot of people.”

One of those people is another long-term friend Leo Morton, who added: “Andrew was a fascinating creature, who I suspect may have been from another planet. “He was warm, kind and utterly ridiculous and my life is infinitely richer for having known him.

“The sheer vastness of the loss is inconceivable.

“People often use the phrase ‘One in a million’. Well I can assure you, he was one in seven or so billion.”

An inquest is expected to be held to establish just how Andrew died, although Scarborough’s coroner’s office said that won’t be opened until Thursday afternoon at the earliest.

In the meantime, funeral arrangements are expected to be announced in the next week, while his friends are planning a commemorative beach bonfire on Sunday.

And as his family remember the man who loved snowboarding, skiing and life, they have now decided to share the responsibilty of looking after his Staffordshire bull terrier, in order to do Andrew proud.

“He was Andrew’s best mate, and that’s what he would have wanted,” added sister Donna, 36.

“He lived a very, very full life.

“He enjoyed his life, and any kind of adventure, and I just feel privileged to be his sister.”