THE families of two well-known members of East Yorkshire’s farming community killed in an aircraft crash near Leven have spoken of their devastating loss.
Tony Cook, 79, was a passenger on board the Reims Cessna F172N aircraft, owned and piloted by his good friend Richard Lewis, when the plane came down on the approach to Beverley Airfield, near Leven, on October 10.
The accident, which happened as the pair were returning from a visit to the Scottish borders to visit Mr Lewis’s relatives, sparked a massive search by police, joined by local farmers and other members of the emergency services.
Mr Lewis, 76, had flown for three decades and until last year was part-owner of the airfield when he sold his shares in order to do more flying.
His family said there was a grain of comfort in that he died doing something he loved.
The men were neighbours in Burton Pidsea where Mr Cook owned farmland and ran businesses, including Burstwick Country Store and Skirlaugh Garden & Aquatic Centre.
Mr Lewis, who had lived in the village since he was 13, previously owned T Harrison (Farmers) Ltd and Owstwick Grange at Manor Farm, in Burton Pidsea, and Hedon Growers at Burstwick.
A great supporter of village activities, he was the chairman of the memorial hall committee and opened the new building earlier this year.
His family had given the land for the hall in 1954.
His family said: “When he retired he took a bigger interest in the flying club and spent a lot of time there, he took great pride in maintaining the airstrip.
“Last year he sold his shares and hoped to enjoy more time flying. One of the many cards of condolences was from someone remembering Richard taking her 90-year-old grandfather for a flight.
“On his return to the airfield, he then asked to go to Spurn Point. Without any question, up he went and took him there, which was the kind of man he was.
“He had two children and two stepchildren, and 10 grandchildren, who all thought the world of him.
“He never had a bad word for anyone, and would do anything for anyone.
"He spent a lot of time planting trees for people to enjoy the village as much as he did.
He was a lovely man, who we will all miss very much.”
The family of Mr Cook paid tribute to his adventurous spirit and “incredible” work ethic: “We want to remember him as someone who never said no.
“He wanted to do every challenge under the sun, life was an adventure. He 100 per cent lived life to the full every day.
“He already had lots of things planned for the future. He was talking about doing a wing walk for his 80th.”
At the age of 46, Mr Cook, who had two children, and four grandchildren, broke his neck playing rugby for Hornsea, but recovered to climb volcanoes and some of the world’s highest mountains, as well as cycling across India and walking deserts for charity.
Mr Cook’s family added: “When he was in hospital with a broken neck it really did instill in him his desire to live life to the full. He always said if he could walk again, he would run - and he did.”
A minute's silence was held last weekend before league games in Hull and Driffield, for the men who were life members of Hull Rugby Union Football Club.
Mr Lewis was a past chairman and president,who played for the old Hull and East Riding, while Mr Cook played for Driffield in his early days.
An inquest has been opened and adjourned pending further inquiries.