Norwich man’s emotional plea to bring his father’s body back home from Cuba
- Credit: SIMON FINLAY
The only son of a 'free-spirited' Thorpe St Andrew man who died while in Cuba, has launched an emotional plea to bring his dad back home.
Beau Archer, of Cremorne Lane, Norwich, had grown concerned about the wellbeing of father Lee, 57, who was living in Havana having last spoken to him on December 7.
He had been due to return to these shores later that month, but as time passed Mr Archer began to fear the worst when he received no communication from his father.
In March, he reported his father missing to the British Embassy, who launched an official enquiry.
On July 14, after seven months of agony, he received the news he had feared all along - his father had died while swimming off the coast of Guanabo Beach.
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Now, Mr Archer, of Cremorne Lane, Norwich, a sales consultant for Broadbank Limited, has vowed to do whatever it takes to see his father's body safely returned to Norwich, to give him the send-off he deserves.
The 26-year-old said: 'This has been the most frustrating time of my life and now it's very hard to take in that I will never speak to him again.
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'Alarm bells began to ring over Christmas, when I didn't hear from him and there were so many signals that something wasn't right.'
He added: 'I can't believe he wasn't reported missing sooner in Cuba, he had friends out there and a landlord. Surely they would have noticed?'
It emerged that Lee's body had been found on December 10 and, having not been claimed after the 30 days specified by Cuban sanitary law, was buried in January.
Mr Archer added: 'I definitely feel that more could have been done when his body was found.
'I don't understand why it took so long to identify him - just looking at him it was obvious he wasn't a Cuban native, so more alarm bells should have gone off on discovering his body.'
It will cost around £10,000 to exhume and repatriate his father's body. 'All my family and I can do at the moment is fundraise,' Mr Archer said. 'The rest is out of our hands. But it will happen, I will make sure of that.'
Despite Lee's landlord confirming his identity, and the body matching both pictures and descriptions of tattoos, nothing can be done until his dental records and fingerprints have been matched in Cuba. In Cuba, the exhumation process cannot normally be carried out until two years after burial, however Mr Archer has been told there may be exceptions in such extraordinary circumstances. He said: 'We have a family plot in Norwich, which is where he belongs, alongside his grandparents. He may have been a free spirit who travelled the world in the last few years of his life, but Norwich will always be his home.'
A Foreign Office spokesperson said: 'We are providing support to the family of a British man reported missing in Havana, Cuba, and remain in contact with local authorities'
LEE ARCHER 1958-2015
Lee Archer was born in 1958, and died aged 57.
His son, Beau, describes him as 'very free spirited, the life and soul of the party'.
'He was a real character,' he said. 'Every time he entered a room you knew about it, and growing up, he was the ideal role model.'
Beau added: 'I met my partner, Jess, while visiting him in Cuba and he always said I was welcome for that.
'It means so much that he got to meet her.
'I've recently bought my first house, and it breaks my heart that my dad will never see me living in my own home.'
Mr Archer was a popular, well-known figure in Norwich, mainly through his work selling Christmas trees.
He would sell trees every year at the Heartsease and the Mitre pubs, as well as running a florists in Norwich city centre.
'His friends would be very cut up to find out about the news – he was very well liked.'
He spent the last three years of his life travelling the world, visiting such places as Thailand, Costa Rica and Cambodia.
He most recently lived locally in Thorpe St Andrew, leaving for Costa Rica at the end of September 2015.
Fundraising for the cause has already begun, with a close friend of Mr Archer offering a hand.
Shane Gammage, 28, has organised a sky diving event, which has already raised more than £3,000. Mr Gammage has been a friend of Mr Archer for several years, and experience of his own grief inspired him to help. He said: 'I lost my father four years ago and Beau was always there for me during that tough time, so I was more than happy to help him. I want to be there for him too.' Mr Archer said he is overwhelmed by the level of support he has already received.
'I have had people donating that I haven't spoken to in around 20 years, but who remember my dad and what a great man he was.'
To donate, visit https://crowdfunding.justgiving.com/sns-skydive