A TRAGIC surfer missing presumed dead off the Eyemouth coast became a dad for the third time just six weeks ago.

Married-father-of-three, Nigel Dawes, 44, was reported missing when he failed to return to shore on Tuesday sparking a huge rescue effort.

His prized surfboard was found abandoned but there has been no sign of the popular sportsman anywhere.

Police say the joiner, from Gordon, Berwickshire, was now “missing presumed dead” and had called off the search after he disappeared on around 4pm on Tuesday.

But yesterday it emerged Mr Dawes and his grieving wife Carys gave birth to a little girl around six weeks ago.

His heartbroken family, including wife Carys, asked to be left alone in their grief yesterday.

Touching tribute paid

But Mr Dawes’ local minister Brian Talbot, of Selkirk Baptist Church, paid tribute to the “exuberant and well-liked” church-goer.

He said: “The church is still shell-shocked and it really is so hard to take in. We just cannot imagine him not being there.

“It’s a terrible tragedy because the couple just had a baby girl six weeks ago.

“They also have two older boys.

“Carys is still understandably distraught.

“But the whole community is pulling together and her mum and dad who live nearby have been wonderful.

“He was a wonderfully dedicated, father, husband and human being.”

Admired and well-liked

“Nigel absolutely loved life and was such an exuberant and effervescent character.

“He really was loved, admired and well-liked by the whole community, and as an active member of the church he was also very well respected.

He added: “I first heard about Nigel about two hours after he was reported missing.

“Our church is very strong and soon people were arriving to pray for his imminent return.

“Unfortunately, that has not happened.

“It really is heartbreaking.”

Mr Dawes, a fit and enthusiastic sportsman, was described as a “keen and experienced” windsurfer who would often be seen enjoying the waves at popular off the East coast.

Mr Talbot added: “The family are very distraught, as you can imagine, but will hopefully be remembering Nigel with a public memorial sometime in the near future.

“It will be an outdoor ceremony because that is how Nigel would have liked it.”

Search called off

Mr Dawes was last seen around 4pm on Tuesday off the coast between Thorntonloch and Cove, about 12 miles north of Berwick-upon-Tweed.

The alarm was raised at around 6pm, and all-weather and inshore lifeboats from Dunbar, Eyemouth and St Abbs began the search.

They were joined for several hours by an RAF rescue helicopter but the search has since been stood down.