THE devastated widow of a sea angler, who was swept to his death by a massive freak wave, has led the tributes to her “fantastic” husband.
Brian Harvey, 49, a father of three from Arbroath, died on Sunday as he was fishing at an area known as the Deil’s Heid, about two miles north of the Angus town.
A giant wave swept him from the rocks into the sea. His two friends Ronnie Coates and Davie Hannah desperately threw bags and other tackle in a bid to try to keep him afloat until rescue arrived.
Mr Harvey was recovered by the crew of the RNLI Arbroath inshore lifeboat, but pronounced dead at the scene after efforts to resuscitate him failed.
Mr Harvey, who married for a second time four years ago, had worked for 16 years at Arbroath Infirmary.
His heartbroken widow, Valerie, 49, said she was still in total shock after police officers told her of the tragedy.
“I’m still expecting him to walk through the door with a fish and me to be shouting and bawling at him for the mess,” she said.
“He used to go fishing every second weekend, right up the coast – he was very experienced.
“He was a fantastic man. Everybody who knew him loved him. All of his work colleagues and his friends are in total shock. He was just one of those happy-go-lucky guys.”
Mr Harvey’s father, Albert, 80, who had been forced to give up going on fishing trips with his son two years ago because of his age, said he was struggling to come to terms with the loss.
“I was just speaking to him the other day,” he said. “He came up to borrow a fishing reel from me and I told him that he had to be careful if he was going up to the cliffs. We were quite a close family and we used to go fishing together all the time.”
Mr Harvey’s colleagues at Arbroath Infirmary, where he worked as a domestic assistant, also paid tribute to the popular angler. Senior charge nurse Sheila Pudney said: “The tragedy of Brian’s untimely death has left all staff in the medical wards at Arbroath Infirmary deeply saddened. Brian was a very dear colleague and friend, and will be missed by all.”
She added: “Brian joined the nursing team as a health care assistant in January 2009. He had already been working in Arbroath as a domestic assistant. He excelled as a health care assistant and was much loved and respected by all patients and team members.”
Arbroath councillor David Fairweather said: “This is an absolute tragedy and my thoughts are with the poor chap and his family at this time.”
The Deil’s Heid is a prominent rock formation on the Angus coast that forms part of a four-mile-long cliff trail graded as an easy walk. It is a popular fishing and climbing spot for locals, offering spectacular views of the area’s red sandstone cliffs and the North Sea.