WARM tributes have been paid to a retired geography teacher and tennis stalwart who was trampled to death by an elephant in India.
Keen bird watcher Colin Manvell, from Hallett Road, Denvilles, Havant, was described as a caring man who made a lasting impression on students during his many years as a geography teacher at Warblington School.
His devastated family spoke of their shock of his death, which happened in an Indian forest he had been visiting for years.
The 68-year-old died at the Masinagudi National Park in the state of Tamil Nadu.
Local police said Mr Manvell and two other men – a guide and an acquaintance – entered an area of the forest that was out of bounds to tourists so they could take photographs.
Mr Manvell, a long-standing member of The Avenue Lawn Tennis Club in Warblington, suffered fatal injuries when the elephant knocked him to the ground with its trunk and then stomped on him.
His brother Derek Manvell, 74, from Portsmouth, said Colin was visiting a tour guide in India who he travelled with twice a year.
He said: ‘I only arrived back from France on holiday last night and this has all come as a massive shock to me.
‘Everyone he knows – from former students to members of the tennis club – have nothing but good words to say about him.
‘Without doubt his biggest love was tennis and he’s been involved with the club for years.
‘He’s held just about every position in office there – including president. His current post was overseeing the management of the courts.
‘He was so generous – he used to make curries for the whole club team when they had matches. He was that kind of guy.’
His nephew, Roger Manvell, is the tennis professional at the club in Southleigh Road.
He said: ‘He was such a giving man and would always help former students all the way through their time with him.
‘Everyone at the club has nothing but nice words about him.
‘Our main focus is going home now and trying to get the body back.
‘Colin worked in lots of different circles of friends who will be so upset by what’s happened.
‘It seems Colin was by a watering hole and could have been in the way of an elephant.’
Writing on a travel blog, Mr Manvell described himself as: ‘A retired geography teacher with a passion of travelling, meeting local people and experiencing wildlife and exotic locations.’
Mr Manvell was the former head of geography at Warblington.
Every year there is a prize given out in his name at the school’s awards ceremony for the most achieving pupils.
He was described as an ‘inspirational teacher’ at Warblington with a love of geography and travel.
Julia Vincent, headteacher, said: ‘Although I did not know him personally, he was well known to the school community and has kindly donated a trophy for academic achievement in geography.
‘We were saddened to hear of this tragic accident and our thoughts and prayers go out to his friends and family at this sad time.’
There have been conflicting reports about the moments leading up to his death.
One report said he was killed after failing to hear guides and other tourists shout warnings to him as the elephant approached during a trek.
Other accounts claimed he was engrossed in his photography and did not hear two other elephants charge at him from behind.
An inspector at Masinagudi police station said officers had not yet inspected the area where Mr Manvell was killed.
He said: ‘We will be able to ascertain whether the place is a reserve forest area or social forestry area only after we inspect the spot where the unfortunate incident happened.
‘We will inspect the place overnight and will register a case accordingly.’
The Foreign Office confirmed the death, saying: ‘We are aware of the tragic death of a British national in southern India and we are providing consular assistance at this difficult time.’
Did you know Colin Manvell? Call the Newsdesk on 023 9244 1702.