THE last time he was seen, Paul Monk was happily surrounded by friends celebrating his 21st birthday.
Two days later his loved ones were devastated by the news that he had been found dead in Langstone Harbour.
Today his doting family and close friends paid tribute to kind-natured Paul, whose death has left a gaping hole in many people’s lives.
Friends say Paul had been out celebrating his birthday at a pub in Havant last Tuesday, March 19, and decided to go to Hayling Island to meet a friend.
It is understood he cycled to Hayling on his purple mountain bike and texted his friend to say he was near the Texaco garage.
What happened after that is not clear, but his body was discovered on mudbanks close to the old Hayling railway line at about midday last Thursday.
Friends said Paul was unable to swim.
Police have ruled out suspicious circumstances.
Paul, a former student of Havant College and Oaklands in Waterlooville, grew up in Chidham Close, Havant, and was a popular member of Havant United Reformed Church in North Street.
A statement from his family said: ‘Please be assured we fully intend to arrange an appropriate thanksgiving service for Paul’s life, at the proper time, in the church where he grew up as part of the worshipping community.
‘Of course other friends of Paul who wish to join us at that time would be very welcome to attend.
‘It is obviously far too early for us to finalise anything as we are awaiting the post-mortem result.
‘Heartfelt thanks for all the prayers, cards and other expressions of love and support, from friends, neighbours, and others, which have already helped so much in our sudden loss.’
Paul had been living in Portsmouth with a friend for the past two years and worked at Burger King in Commercial Road.
His housemate, who did not want to be named, said: ‘Paul was a lovely bloke who would not harm anyone and a person who saw the best in everyone.
‘He left a lasting impression on all who met him.
‘His loving family are devastated by the loss of Paul and take solace in their faith and are being comforted and supported by their church.
‘All of us who knew him are shocked at this tragic accident and will mourn the premature loss of a true character.’
Police are preparing a file for the coroner to determine how the tragedy happened.
An inquest will take place at a later date.
‘HIS BEAMING SMILE BROUGHT US SO MUCH HAPPINESS’
MANY poignant tributes have been paid to Paul Monk.
His friend Lewis Salter, 21, from Warblington, said: ‘People can learn a lot from the way Paul lived his life. He had such a refreshing positive outlook on life and didn’t let anything faze him. When I got to know Paul better I realised what a special one-of-a-kind person he really was – he would go out of his way to help others and to those who let him he was a great friend.
‘I’m sure Paul will be looking down over us all now with that beaming smile that brought so much happiness to others. Our loss is heaven’s gain.’