Tributes paid to a much-loved flood warden

Former Walcott flood warden Tony Andrews. Picture: Maurice Gray

Former Walcott flood warden Tony Andrews. Picture: Maurice Gray - Credit: Archant

Tributes have been paid to former flood warden Tony Andrews, who has died aged 69.

Walcott, where former flood warden Tony Andrews was always checking the waves. Picture: Maurice Gray

Walcott, where former flood warden Tony Andrews was always checking the waves. Picture: Maurice Gray - Credit: Archant

Mr Andrews would often be seen striding the Walcott seafront disregarding the weather, but with a very watchful eye on the tides.

Born in 1951, Mr Andrews was a respected flood warden with WEVA (Walcott Emergency Volunteer Association), an independent group who watched the incoming tides particularly when forecasts of flooding and risk of damage to homes and properties.

For 40 years, Mr Andrews and his team gained knowledge of the oncoming seas and spotted the danger zones before briefing the local community as well as organising evacuations, making sure occupants at risk be moved to a safer place, usually the local pub.

A former farmhand, Mr Andrews was respected for his knowledge and extreme kindness. A man with a sense of humour and a laugh to bring a smile to anybody, but at the same time he would always be instigative of improvements on drainage, flooding and protection of the residents and businesses from flooding in the village.

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Tony was always willing to help residents by giving lifts and other jobs in the area.

If he spotted a problem he would attempt to put it right and was always willing to help with any situation that might occur with any resident.

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In 2018 Mr Andrews and his wife Sylvia retired from WEVA, due to ill health and age, but they never stopped helping others when needed.

Last year Mr Andrews was diagnosed with cancer and put up an unbelievable fight, supported by his loving wife and family and although he was in pain he would shrug it off and always enjoyed a laugh and a good joke.

He passed away, peacefully, in the early hours of January 23 with his wife and family by his side.

He will never be forgotten, leaving a legacy of memories and the fulfilment of keeping a community working together and his legendary image will stay in people's minds forever, as a reminder of him striding the Walcott seafront with a watchful eye on the "turning tides".

Mr Andrews leaves his widow, children Tracey, Kerry and David and all their respective families.

The funeral is on Tuesday, February 18 at 11am at Walcott Church. Family flowers only but donations, if desired, to The East Anglian Air Ambulance.

In tribute to Mr Andrews, Colin Plummer, coxswain of the Mundesley Inshore Volunteer Lifeboat, said: "I was very sad to hear that Tony has finally lost his fight against cancer and on behalf of the Mundesley Volunteer Inshore Lifeboat I would like to pass on our condolences to Tony's family.

"For many years we worked alongside Tony and his volunteers in WEVA, and many an evening spent watching the sea was made brighter by Tony's humour and infectious laugh.

"In the 2013 floods we worked with WEVA and needed the valuable knowledge of the Walcott area in evacuating those in danger, which Tony always provided.

"He will be greatly missed by us all and we will continue to support WEVA in anyway we can."

Trish McCarthy, local Walcott resident said: "Tony always knocked to make the family and my caravan park residents aware if flooding was possible. We all owe our lives to him. He was always on hand to help anybody with anything and was a genuine, caring man with a lovely family."

Trixie Fenn, a Walcott resident, said: "Tony was always very kind and there for you when you needed him. A very sad loss."

Walcott, Bacton and Happisburgh Flood Support and Help Group posted on their Facebook page: "Heartfelt condolences to the family of the late Tony Andrews, who has sadly lost his battle with cancer.

"Tony played an integral role as a flood warden in Walcott for many years being on call night and day in mostly inclement weather, monitoring the high tides in order to keep our community safe.

"Sometimes, the community got away lightly, others it didn't, particularly in 1983, 1996, 2007 and 2013.

"Not only did he watch the tides with his team but he played a vital role in co-ordinating necessary evacuations.

"Sadly, Tony was never formerly acknowledged for his devotion to the community, by various authorities, in his vital role in the devastating surge of 2013.

"He didn't seek public acclaim or accolades, for what he did was for the love of his community and its residents.

"To all the residents of Walcott, albeit too little and too late, I'm sure you'll join me in saying, we are eternally grateful for your years of dedication to our community."

"Walcott has lost a genuine character and a friend to many. RIP Tony."

Tony Garbutt, senior coastal operations officer of the Coastguard said: "I always found Tony as someone I was happy to work with.

"He was a stoic defender of the work and volunteers in WEVA and also of his community where he was always willing to give his time for others. He will be sorely missed by the local HMCG and Walcott".

Paul Woolston, former head co-ordinator of WEVA said: "Tony was always helpful and had great consideration for the community.

"He took over when I retired and continued the good work and was always there to help everybody at anytime. He will be missed and never forgotten".

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