Heckmondwike canoeist tragedy

Tributes have been paid to a canoeist who died in a kayaking accident in North Yorkshire at the weekend.

Matthew Baird-Parker, who lived in Heckmondwike, was a keen and experienced canoeist.

Police were called to Arkle Beck near Reeth, Leyburn, on Sunday at 1pm, following reports that a man canoeing with friends had got into difficulties.

Officers were helped by the Swaledale Mountain Rescue Team, North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service and an RAF air support unit, and found Mr Baird-Parker in the water at around 2.30pm.

He was taken to James Cook University Hospital in Middlesbrough by air ambulance where he was pronounced dead.

Mr Baird-Parker, 36, who was originally from Kidderminster, was a popular local figure where he worked at Robin Hood Watersports in Heckmondwike.

Friend and colleague Paul McDonnell said: “We were all good friends with Matthew – he was always friendly and was never sad.

“He always had a lot of time for everyone, and he was always willing to listen – he was just a really nice bloke.”

Matthew’s father, Stephen Baird-Parker, said on Facebook: “Matt lived life to the full and always on the edge. He couldn’t have become an old person and was destined to die young, even with 20 people fighting for him.

“So many people were touched by him, it’s astounding.

“This must have been the way to go. We really wish it wasn’t.”

He also praised the efforts of the rescue teams who attempted to save his son’s life.

An inquest has been opened and adjourned to his death.