Gareth Jones: Tributes to Hove man 'swept out to sea' with dog

image copyrightSussex Police
image captionGareth Jones was last seen on Saturday lunchtime

The family of a man who is feared drowned after being swept out to sea with his dog have paid tribute to him.

Gareth Jones, 69, was last seen near Hove, East Sussex, at about 13:00 GMT on Saturday, and a large search operation was scaled back on Sunday.

Daughter Rhian Jones said her father "was a truly special man".

His family said hundreds of local people had joined the search, alongside a coastguard helicopter and two RNLI lifeboats.

Police said CCTV appears to show Mr Jones and his brown cockapoo, Connie, being swept out to sea.

Mr Jones has yet to be found, but the body of the family pet was found on the beach.

image copyrightSussex Police
image captionGareth Jones's cockapoo, Connie, was also swept out to sea

Rhian Jones said: "We can all just aspire to be more like dad and just do everything in life that he would have done and look at challenges in the way dad would have done and turn things that aren't so positive into positives."

He will "live on through us forever," she said.

Mr Jones' wife Shirley Neal thanked those who joined the search effort.

"[There were] people of every age, every background you can imagine, which was typical of Gareth," she said.

"People just turned out en masse, wanting to help, which we really appreciate".

Mr Jones worked as BBC Director of HR and Legal Affairs between 2000 and 2001.

A spokeswoman for the BBC press office said: "He was a wonderful colleague and leader, and we are deeply shocked and saddened by his loss.

"All our thoughts are with his family."

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