The family of a British swimmer killed by a great white shark in Australia have paid tribute to him, describing him as a “wonderful human being”.
Simon Nellist, 35, is believed to have been training for a charity swim when he was attacked in front of horrified onlookers in Sydney’s Little Bay on Wednesday afternoon.
The dive instructor and former RAF engineer, who served two tours in Afghanistan, grew up in the west Cornwall village of Ludgvan before emigrating.
His family said he was a “proud Cornishman” who had made Australia his home with his fiancée Jessie Ho, whom he was due to wed this summer.
“Simon was a sweet, kind and wonderful human being. He was a beloved fiancé, son, brother, uncle and friend,” his family told the BBC.
“Simon was funny, compassionate and always had time for people. He had the rare gift of being able to instantly connect with others, gaining their trust and respect.
“Simon had a great passion for nature and the sea, in addition to being a very talented photographer.”
They added that they were very proud of him and would “miss him terribly”.
Mr Nellist’s aunt, Jacqui Seager, 62, said his mother wondered how he could ‘come back unscathed from the front line only to go to Australia and go swimming and get killed’.
She told the MailOnline: “Simon has always loved the sea. He has always been very close to it. He loved wildlife and the world. He had a real love affair with nature.
“He was a very kind and caring man who loved life.”
“I don’t think Simon would want the shark killed. He loved nature,” she added.
“It’s absolutely awful. We are all in shock.
Della Ross, a friend of Mr Nellist, told broadcaster 7News: “Everything about Simon, to me, is about the ocean.
“The news hit us like a truck because he is truly one of the people who makes this Earth better.”
Emergency services were called to Little Bay at around 4.35pm local time on Wednesday after reporting that a swimmer had been attacked by a shark.
The incident is believed to be Sydney’s first fatal shark attack since 1963.
Witness Kris Linto said the swimmer was in the water when the shark “came up and attacked him vertically”.
It is believed that Mr Nellist was training for the 5k Malabar Magic Ocean Swim when he was killed.
Organizers canceled the event, which was to take place on Sunday, as a mark of respect.
The Independent Gt