Farewell to tragic dad

Andrew Weatherill
Andrew Weatherill

THE funeral of a tragic dad who was killed in a canoeing accident has taken place.

Andrew Weatherill, 33, died last Saturday after a freak accident in Northumberland.

The former soldier had enjoyed a romantic weekend away with girlfriend Rachel Johnson to celebrate Valentine’s Day and decided to go canoeing before returning home to Hartlepool.

But Andrew, who was trying to navigate a stretch of water at Riding Mill, near Hexham, became trapped and after being pulled out by the emergency services he died at the Royal Victoria Infirmary, in Newcastle.

His funeral took place at Stranton Grange cemetery, in Tanfield Road.

Already a father to seven-year-old Louis from a previous relationship, Andrew became a new father to baby Charlie just four months ago.

His heartbroken partner, Rachel, 21, described him as the “perfect dad” who lived life to the full.

She said: “He wouldn’t waste his days in the summer. He was always on the beach or out fishing.

“We always did something special for Valentine’s Day.

“Last year we went to Gran Canaria and the year before we went on an off-road driving trip.

“He was a hero to Louis. He knows he’s gone but doesn’t really understand. He keeps asking if his dad is a star in the sky.

“I saw a tear in Andrew’s eye for the first time ever when Charlie was born. He was over the moon.

“He wanted to have a big family. He was always wanting to better himself and he could make a joke out of anything.

“He was my best friend. I loved him so much and I knew from the moment we first met that I wanted to spend the rest of my life with him.”

The couple, who had been together for three years, had spent the previous night in a log cabin in the Lake District.

They were driving home to their home in Huxley Walk, Hartlepool, when Andrew, a fork lift truck driver, decided to go canoeing.

Rachel said: “I dropped him off in Hexham at around 1pm. He said he was only going to be two hours and took my mobile phone.

“I was meant to meet him later, but he didn’t turn up. I tried to call him from my sister’s phone, but there was no answer.

“I had a drive along the river to look for him, but I didn’t go as far as Riding Mill.

“I called the police at 5pm, and then again at 6pm. When they told me what had happened, but I couldn’t believe it.”

Andrew’s sister, Jayne Weatherill, 41, from Gateshead, added: “He has left such a big void and my heart aches so much. He’s just going to be greatly missed by everyone who knew him.

“We just can’t understand what has happened. He was very safety conscious.

“He wasn’t careless or stupid. He took risks but always took precautions too.”

Andrew also leaves two brothers, Lee, 38, and Martin, 29, one niece, five nephews and a great-nephew.