Tributes have poured in for a life-saving volunteer who saw action at some of the biggest disasters to ever hit the area.

The family of former Whitehaven Coastguard station officer Paul Pater, who died suddenly last week aged 62, described him as their ‘hero’.

Mr Pater was a key member of the coastguard for more than 30 years and was involved in the Lockerbie disaster, the sinking of the Solway Harvester and the Cockermouth Floods.

His son, David Pater, said: “He served for 35 years as a volunteer with the coastguard, with me alongside him for 13 of those years. If it wasn’t for dad I would never have got involved, he inspired me.

“He loved his family but he always got up to help others when he needed to and we all understood that – he was our hero. He will leave a big hole, not only in our family but in the community, the coastguard community and in his work family.

“He was a loving and caring family man to all his children and grandchildren. He was just like a big kid, that kind of person. He would never stand by to see anyone struggle, he would help everybody that needed it.”

HM Coastguard area commander Danny Jamson said Mr Pater, who lived in Moresby, would be a big miss to the local community.

He said: “It was with great shock and sadness that members of the coastguard family learnt that Paul Pater ex-station officer of HM Coastguard, Whitehaven passed away suddenly last week.

“For over 30 years Paul had served his community as a volunteer with HM Coastguard, more than 20 of those years he was in charge of the Whitehaven team.

“Paul joined the coastguard in 1983 not long after leaving the Royal Navy and he has played a pivotal role in providing emergency response to people who needed help and assistance along the West Cumbria coastline.

“During this time Paul has been directly involved and commanded many incidents as either a team member or as a commander; such as the Lockerbie disaster, the sinking of the Solway Harvester and the Cockermouth floods.

“Following one incident in 1999 Paul, along with other members of Whitehaven Coastguard, were awarded the Chief Coastguard Commendation for their successful efforts in the rescue of a crew from a stricken yacht in Ravenglass Estuary.

“He also gave time to give talks and presentations to many local schools and groups to promote sea safety and to raise the awareness of the coastguard.

“He was always willing to coach coastguards new and old and many serving members within our local area and flank teams have benefited from his experiences and knowledge.”

Paul retired from the coastguard service in 2018 to spend more time with his family and grandchildren.

And Mr Jamson added: “As station officer he was well known in the wider coastguard community and other local rescue organisations. Even after retiring he still kept in touch with the team and would accompany them at the Remembrance Day commemorations in November. Paul will be sadly missed by all.”

St Bees RNLI paid their own tribute as they left their flag at half mast in Mr Pater’s memory.

And David Abbott from Whitehaven Sea Cadets added: “I’ve known him for a number of years through his involvement with the coastguard, and he had lots of friends in the unit – he had lots of friends in general, and was a widely popular man.

“He’ll be greatly missed by all his family and friends, and our thoughts and condolences are with his family at this time. And if there is anything the Sea Cadets can do to help, we’ll do it.”

Mr Pater’s funeral was held yesterday at Distington Hall Crematorium.