HE was a hero whose selfless act will never be forgotten. Now Marco Araujo’s devastated family and friends are rallying round to make sure he has the funeral send-off he deserves.
There were tears of heartache, as well as pride, as his loved ones held a fundraising walk in his memory on Saturday through Portsmouth and along Southsea seafront.
As reported, the 33-year-old was tragically killed last month after risking his life to save two young girls who were swept out into Portsmouth Harbour.
He dived in to rescue four-year-old Destiny Butcher, of Landguard Road, Eastney, and a 10-year-old girl, but disappeared beneath the waves.
The tragedy has devastated his close-knit group of family and friends.
To add to the agony, Marco’s mother and sister live in Portugal and are cannot to afford to travel to the UK to pay their last respects and say goodbye.
The walk started at Wilmcote House in Somers Town – a place where Marco shared eight years of happy memories with his long-term partner Tracey Hall.
Fighting back tears, the 41-year-old, who now lives in Buckland, said: ‘I am still in total shock – I still don’t understand.
‘I am extremely proud. Everybody has been overwhelming.
‘People I don’t even know will come up to me and tell me how brave he was.
‘I wish to god he was here – but I can walk with pride.’
The walkers draped themselves in the Portuguese flag as they walked to Eastney swimming pool and back.
Shaking a charity tin was Marco’s grandson David Winter, four, who was having a day out on the beach with Marco and Tracey when the tragedy happened.
David’s mum Tyler Saunders, 20, Marco’s step-daughter, said: ‘I wanted to raise money for Marco’s mum and sister to come over for the funeral because I know that’s what my dad would have wanted. I am trying my hardest to be strong for my mum and my kids.
‘He was a hero – he was just so fantastic.’
The family want to raise at least £800 to help get his mum Maria and sister Paula over to England. A date for the funeral has not yet been set.
To find out how to help the appeal call reporter Joe Nimmo at The News on (023) 9262 2164.
‘He gave his life and deserves recognition’
THERE was an outpouring of emotion as friends and family proudly walked through the streets of Portsmouth.
People who they didn’t even know, but had heard of the tragedy, came up to put money in the tins as a mark of their respect.
Lindsey Hanson, 40, Tracey Hall’s sister, took part in the event in her wheelchair.
She said: ‘Our first goal is to get his family over here – to bring his mum and sister over for the funeral.
‘Any extra money after that’s paid for can go towards the funeral itself.
‘And we wanted to set up some kind of charity after that, to give money to the RNLI and the Stroke Association in his memory, because the lifeboat did try to save him.’
She added: ‘It was three weeks ago but it feels like yesterday. Marco was the salt of the earth, the sort of man who would give anybody his last penny. He gave his life to save those girls.’
Tracey’s mum Kay Hall, 59, of Wellington Street, Somers Town, said she was proud to call Marco her ‘son’.
She said: ‘He made my daughter so happy. For the first time in her life she was so happy.’
Marco’s best friend Tony Barnes, 41, from Somers Town, said: ‘He didn’t know a lot of people, but the people he did know will never forget him.
‘He would do anything for anybody. He was just an overall good guy. He gave his life to save someone else’s and he deserves the recognition.’