The family of a workman who died in a tragic fall from Eastbourne Pier this week have been flooded with tributes for a hugely popular man.
Stephen Penrice, 44, of Cumbria, fell from the Pier on Tuesday afternoon (August 19) and was declared dead at the scene after sustaining a serious head injury.
Robert Maxwell, Mr Penrice’s uncle, said the family was “totally shocked and saddened”, but that cards and tributes pushed through the door of their village home in Maryport all night on Wednesday had kept them strong.
Mr Penrice was part of a close-knit team of contractors who travel the country working on piers. His employer, MP Marine Ltd, has worked regularly on Eastbourne Pier for around seven years, and because of this Mr Penrice, known affectionately as ‘Penny’, had many friends in Eastbourne.
Commentators on the Herald’s website and Facebook account rushed to pay their respects and send condolences to Mr Penrice’s family.
On the Herald website Katie Boyle described Mr Penrice as “a lovely man, a gentle giant with a massive smile to match his kind heart”. Her thoughts were echoed by many.
Emergency services were called to the Pier at 4pm on Tuesday after Mr Penrice fell in unexplained circumstances.
The Pier is currently shut down as officers from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigate the site with Sussex Police. The full investigation is expected to take at least months, though an HSE spokesman predicted restoration work could resume on the Pier with days, or at the most, weeks.
Pier owners Cuerden Leisure described the event as “a terrible tragedy” and said their thoughts were with the Penrice family.
Mr Penrice, a bricklayer by trade, had no children of his own, but lived with his partner Shannon and her son Liam in Maryport. His mother Winnie has said she is “deeply moved” by tributes received from his communities in the North and South of England.
Around a third of the Pier was destroyed after a fire started in the arcade on the afternoon of July 30. Forensic experts are currently recovering CCTV footage and considering the possibility of arson.