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Shark victim’s UK family pay heartfelt tribute

Sydney beaches were closed to surfers and swimmers after the attack



By AFP

Published: Sat 19 Feb 2022, 9:29 PM

The British family of an Afghanistan war veteran who was killed by a great white shark off Sydney paid tribute on Saturday to his “rare gift” for connecting with people.

Diving instructor Simon Nellist, 35, emigrated to Australia from Cornwall in southwest England six years ago, following two combat tours of Afghanistan with the Royal Air Force, according to local media.

Fishermen and golfers watched helplessly from nearby cliffs as the shark mauled the swimmer to death in a horrific attack on Wednesday off Sydney’s Little Bay Beach. It was the city’s first fatal shark attack since 1963.

Nellist was a “proud Cornishman” who was engaged to be married, and was a “gentle, kind and wonderful human being”, his family in Britain said in a statement to the BBC, adding they would “miss him terribly”.

“Simon was funny, compassionate and always had time for people. He had a rare gift of instantly being able to connect with others, gaining their trust and respect,” they said.

Nellist’s aunt Jacqui Seager, 62, said he was an animal lover who would not have wanted the shark to be destroyed if it is caught.

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“Simon always loved the sea. He was always very close to it. He loved wildlife and the world. He had a real love affair with nature,” she said, according to the Cornwall Live news site.

“His mum said how could he return from the frontline (in Afghanistan) unscathed to then go to Australia, go out for a swim and get killed?”

Sydney beaches were closed to surfers and swimmers after the attack, but reopened on Friday. Searches have yet to track down the shark, which is believed to be at least three metres (10 feet) in length.


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