Family’s tributes to ‘lovely’ Big Al who died after falling from Wightlink ferry

TRIBUTES have been paid to a ‘kind-hearted, gentle and caring’ man who died after falling from a ferry.

Alan Stafford, 58, of Craneswater Park, Southsea, was a BAE Systems port operator based at Portsmouth’s Naval Base.

Alan Stafford

Alan Stafford

His family have confirmed they believe it was his body recovered from close to Haslar Wall in Gosport on Monday morning.

Alan – fondly known as Big Al or Algie – leaves behind his five sisters Tricia Trevett, Chrissy Adams, Lesley Toovey, Kate Upsall, and Suzy Louth, who have been devastated by his death.

Members of his wider family have expressed their sadness after he fell into the water on August 29 in Portsmouth Harbour from the Wightlink ferry St Cecilia.

Tricia, 66, of Ruskin Road, Milton, said her brother was a ray of sunshine and loved by everyone he met. 

The search on August 29 after Alan Stafford fell from the Wightlink ferry St Cecilia in Portsmouth Harbour

The search on August 29 after Alan Stafford fell from the Wightlink ferry St Cecilia in Portsmouth Harbour

She said: ‘Alan had so many friends who always enjoyed themselves when they were around him.

‘My sisters and I all feel so lost without him but know Al is with mum.

‘Even though we are in shock we have so many fantastic memories to hold on to and will now remember the lovely man he was.’

Alan, who was involved in loading HMS Queen Elizabeth before the aircraft carrier departed last month, regularly socialised with friends at pubs across the city including at North End and Southsea.

He was an avid motorcyclist with a particular interest in scooters, attending and participating in numerous events.

Mrs Trevett added: ‘All I can say is how much my sisters and I, as well as so many other family and friends, all loved him and will always miss him.

‘Alan has truly affected the lives of so many people. It’s comforting to know that.’

Carrying an up-beat, bubbly and friendly persona, Alan’s friends recognised him as someone with charisma and a genuine interest in other people. 

Speaking on Facebook, Angie Van Kooperen said Alan was a likeable and fun character.

She posted: ‘We are so very saddened, we are all going to miss you so much.

‘You were a lovely, kind-hearted and gentle man who so many people are going to miss so much. 

‘We had so many laughs and good times. Fun days out, drunken nights and holidays too. We all can’t believe you are gone. You will always be remembered.’

Funeral arrangements are yet to be shared.

An online memorial page where people can upload pictures and comments about Alan can be seen at remembr.com/algie.stafford