Tributes paid to Biddulph couple 'drowned off Sicily'

Andrew Sturgess and Carmen Spiridon
Image caption Breathe City Church said the couple were "active members" and were "greatly in love"

Tributes have been paid to a couple from Staffordshire who reportedly drowned while swimming in the sea off south-west Sicily.

Police believe that Andrew Sturgess, 34, tried to rescue his fiancee Carmen Spiridon, 25, from the water at Tre Fontane beach in Campobello di Mazara.

The couple from Biddulph were on holiday on the island.

Mr Sturgess' family said: "Andrew was a very caring person as was Carmen, who was like a breath of fresh air to us."

Breathe city church in Stoke-on-Trent, which the couple attended, said the loss was a "tragedy."

'Honest and dedicated'

A spokeswoman for the church said the couple started attending in 2011 and were both "active members and could regularly be seen welcoming people at the door every Sunday.

"It was apparent that Andrew and Carmen were greatly in love and committed to each other," she added.

Rebro Hydraulic Services in Biddulph, where Mr Sturgess had worked as an office manager for 10 years, said staff were shocked and saddened.

One of its directors, James Brown, described him as "an honest and dedicated worker".

He said: "[I] don't know how we'll replace him. He had a bright future ahead of him with his fiancee. They were looking forward to life together."

Mr Brown said the company would be closed on Monday as a mark of respect.

The Foreign Office said it was "providing consular assistance to the family at this difficult time."

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