Much-loved Scarborough man Andrew Jackson, diver and underwater camera man, passes away aged 60

As a child growing up in Scarborough, Andrew Jackson, who has died aged 60, developed a love for the sea which only deepened throughout his life and was behind many of his extraordinary achievements.

By Corinne Macdonald
Thursday, 7th November 2019, 1:52 pm
Updated Thursday, 7th November 2019, 1:53 pm
Andrew Jackson. Picture by Julie Hatcher
Andrew Jackson. Picture by Julie Hatcher

He was an experienced diver, underwater explorer, filmmaker, and family man, and wife Jackie described him as “quietly brilliant”.

His modest nature meant many of his achievements weren’t as well known as they might have been.

Sign up to our daily The Scarborough News Today newsletter

Andy filming seagrass of the coast of Dorset. Picture by Colin Garrett

His sudden passing on October 14 shocked his family, friends and colleagues, with Jackie receiving several messages of condolence from TV producers around the UK.

At his funeral on October 29, mourners travelled from the Highlands of Scotland, Bristol and Wales to say goodbye to a much-loved man.

Born in Scarborough on May 27 1959, the second child of Bernard and Vera and younger brother of Sue, Andy spent much of his childhood on North Bay exploring rockpools and would run a small stall cleaning and selling sea urchins.

A fascination with what lies in the depths of the UK’s waters stayed with him throughout his life and, after learning to dive in his early 20s and becoming a member of Scarborough Sub Aqua Club, he began to explore shipwrecks off the Yorkshire coast, many of which were previously unknown.

Andy diving. Picture by Peter Bardsley

From the boats Volunteer, North Star and Bell raiser, Andy searched the seas, bringing back interesting artefacts, including ships’ bells, steering wheels and lanterns which he lovingly restored. Perhaps most well known was the Siebe Gorman diving helmet from the wreck of The Disperser displayed in the sub aqua club.

His time underwater was backed up by even more hours trawling through archives researching potential locations of wrecks and their history.

Among many important wreck discoveries were two German U-Boats from World War One which he located along with fellow diver, the late Carl Racer.

Andy with the Siebe Gorman diving helmet he found on the wreck of The Disperser. Picture: JPI Media

Aside from diving, Andy trained as a civil engineer, working at Wards Brothers at Sherburn, then Scarborough Borough Council where he was involved in building the Seamer bypass.

He was the first person from the council at the scene after the Holbeck Hall Hotel landslide, to assess the situation. He was also involved in organising the cliff stabilisation work afterwards.

In 1986 he married Elizabeth Rusby, with whom he shared a marriage of 25 years and two children, Ellie, 28, and Fred, 26. them.. He inspired his children with his love of nature and the outdoors, spending countless hours with them camping, hiking and adventuring.

He was immensely proud of Ellie and Fred and shared a special relationship with them.

From the council he moved to Yorkshire Water before leaving the corporate world in 2011, aged 52, to pursue his dream of becoming an underwater cameraman.

He met his second wife Jackie Daly in 2012 on a dive trip in the Isles of Scilly and they became fast friends before building a life together and getting married in 2017.

His work as an underwater cameraman combined his love for exploration and storytelling. He began making his own wildlife films, many with Jackie as script-writer.

Eventually his work caught the attention of producers at the BBC and Andy had many credits to his name. His underwater puffin sequence featured in episode six of Blue Planet 2, several of his films appeared on Springwatch, Autumnwatch and Winterwatch on BBC One, and a feature on tides and limpets was shown on National Geographic.

Most recently a film about spiny seahorses was shown on BBC Autumnwatch on October 30, which also included a tribute to Andy after the credits.

He would go the extra mile to get the right shots for the story, and combined his engineering and diving knowledge to build a ‘quadpod’ – a tripod with four legs – so his camera could sit above creatures to film over extended periods of time.

Jackie said his enthusiasm for life and commitment to his dream of being a cameraman was, and continued to be, an inspiration to her.

She said: “I am so privileged to have loved him. We are all devastated to have lost our hero.”