A PEMBROKESHIRE man on a charity mission to the Maldives has died tragically in a snorkelling accident.
Dai Rees, aged 30, who grew up in Saundersfoot, was one of four paramedics from the Bournemouth area who had travelled to the Indian Ocean islands to help provide emergency response training and equipment.
The former Greenhill School pupil set up the initiative with three colleagues after volunteering in the Maldives and finding out that islanders had virtually no first-aid provision.
Dai’s brother Richard Rees-Khan, who has been working on a whale shark research programme in the Maldives, said of the accident on Sunday: “Dai blacked out while snorkelling off an island in the Maldives and he was too deep to be rescued. He could not be revived, despite the desperately brave actions of his friend and colleague, Adam, whom we want to thank from the bottom of our hearts for all he did.”
Writing on Facebook, he added that he and the family - parents Des and Tina and brother Adam - were “finding some peace in knowing that Dai was shining his brightest when he left us.
“Words can not describe how proud we all are of him, and how lucky we feel to have known him, loved him and been loved by him. A true one-off.”
Tributes have been pouring in for the immensely popular Dai, who has been described as ‘a great person full of love for life, optimism and a great sense of humour’, ‘one of the nicest guys you’ll ever meet’, a ‘true legend’ and ‘a man with an enormous and captivating passion for life’.
Dai’s zest for life encompassed sport, music, fun and adventure. While at Tenby’s Greenhill School, he was an enthusiastic member of the basketball team and he was a talented musician, playing clarinet, piano and keyboards with a particular gift for jazz improvisation.
Schoolfriends have been remembering Dai on Facebook. Sian Rilstone wrote: “Dai was one of the funniest, friendliest people I’ve ever met. His enthusiasm and sense of adventure were contagious.” Said John Hallett: “Big man, big smile and a big heart. So cruel that someone who made the most of this life should have it taken away from them so young“, while Carly Odley commented: “A wonderful person who will be deeply missed, he had a smile that no-one could ever forget.”
And Gareth Hodgkinson remembered Dai as: “….everyone’s friend, incredibly talented and always adventurous.”
The group set up by Dai and his colleagues is the Madivian Sihhath Initiative, which will work in partnership with the South Western Ambulance Service NHS Trust to deliver training and equipment - donated by the trust - to five of the most populated islands across the Maldivian archipelago.
The trust’s chief executive, Ken Wenman, said: “Dai was a well-liked and respected member of staff, and on behalf of the Trust I would like to offer my condolences to his family, friends and work colleagues.”
Ambulance service colleagues have also left tributes to Dai. Said Robert Milham: “RIP my friend, you were the true prince of Wales”, with Tori Lack describing him as "a rare type of fella that no-one had a bad word to say about" and Anna Shears calling him “a bright star and a gentleman”.
A Foreign and Commonwealth Offfice spokesman said: “We can confirm the death of a British national on 16 March in Maldives. We are providing consular assistance at this difficult time."