Lowestoft diver who ‘lived his dream’ is found dead

Photographs of the late George Spence.

Photographs of the late George Spence. - Credit: Sarah Lucy brown

The partner of a Suffolk diver whose body was discovered five weeks after he went missing in Dover has described the agonising wait for news of his whereabouts and the moment she learned he had been found.

Jane Hammond, 56, from Lowestoft, said she believed her partner of 20 years, George Spence, may have fallen into Dover harbour and been knocked out as he entered the water.

The 61-year-old had travelled to the Kent coast from his home in Lowestoft to join a wreck salvage. On April 28, he and shipmates went for a meal and drinks while their chartered vessel, the Suffolk Spirit, was docked in the harbour.

It was the last time he was seen until his body was found at the former hover port terminal last Wednesday morning.

Although Kent Police said formal identification was still to take place, on the body was found a bank receipt in Mr Spence's name.

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Mr Spence had been accompanied in Dover by 19-year-old step-son Paul, who called Mrs Hammond to tell her of his disappearance. It was five weeks before a Kent Police inspector called to say a body had been found. 'He told me he had very bad news,' said Mrs Hammond.

'In a way, I felt some relief that he had been found. If he had never been found, I would always wonder. At last, I can give him a decent burial and celebrate what life he had.

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'My other thought was thank goodness he's out of the water. Despite spending his life in water, he hated being cold or wet.'

Mr Spence's career took him around the world, including Haiti, Cape Verde and Mozambique, where he would return to donate items of clothing for children in poverty-stricken communities.

He spent six months organising his latest dive, for which he set off from Lowestoft on Friday, April 24.

Mr Spence, who has family in Surrey, as well as a brother in Wangford and a nephew in Lowestoft, was involved in the search for the HMS Royal James – destroyed off Southwold at the Battle of Sole Bay in 1672.

He also led dive support on an underwater survey of the medieval town dubbed 'Britain's Atlantis' off Dunwich.

Mrs Hammond said: 'He put a lot of effort into living his dream. Some would say he was dedicated, I sometimes said it was daft, because money was scratchy from time to time between jobs, but it was his dream and he would never have abandoned it.'

Read more in this Friday's Journal.

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