Heartfelt tributes have been paid to a larger than life Whitby businessman who died while on holiday in Turkey.
Tony Gissing (57) who runs Tony’s Professional Vacuum Chimney Sweep Service was holidaying with wife Enid in Oludeniz, a popular tourist destination on the country’s southern coast where the tragedy happened last Wednesday (June 26).
Mr Gissing of Westbourne Road, has run his business in Whitby for more than 30 years and was joined in the trade by Enid in the early nineties.
He was a long serving member of Whitby Conservative Club committee, a founder member of the National Federation of Chimney Sweeps and also helped out at Danby Show where Enid serves as assistant secretary.
A keen swimmer, it is believed Mr Gissing died while swimming in the sea off a beach in Oludeniz although the cause of his death has not been established.
A spokesman for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office said it is providing Mr Gissing’s family with consular assistance at this “sad time.”
Mr Gissing’s body has been brought back to the UK and funeral directors Robert Harrison & Sons have been appointed.
Enid’s sister Jean Blacklock from Danby said: “We are all shocked and need time to come to terms with things and the circumstances just aren’t clear yet as to exactly what happened.
“He did enjoy swimming in the sea when they went away rather than swimming in a hotel pool. It wasn’t anything unusual.
“We are all devastated by Tony’s death and are going to miss him so much.”
Glenn Goodberry,chairman of Whitby Conservative Club, said: “Tony’s death is a big blow to the club and the members. He was very hard-working, very proactive and organised acts and entertainment and raffles.
“He was virtually there every Saturday night and was a stalwart of the club.
“He didn’t just talk a lot, he did a lot. He will be sadly missed by all of the committee and club members. It’s tragic.”
Lifeboat mechanic Mr Goodberry added: “The Saturday before he went away he was having a drink in the club, I waved him goodbye and wished him a nice holiday so to receive the news on Wednesday he had died is such a shock.”
Mr Gissing opened his business in Whitby back in 1980 and acted as the North Eastern Regional Officer for the National Federation of Chimney sweeps since it was formed in 1982.
President of the association, Martin Glynn who has known Mr Gissing for more than 30 years said: “Tony’s death is going to leave a big hole in our organisation when we have our meetings.
“He was a larger than life character and very well respected.
“He will be greatly missed. He was always in attendance at meetings, to my knowledge he didn’t miss a meeting. It’s very very sad news indeed.”
Mr Glynn added Mr Gissing was very safety conscious and took great pride in his work
“He liked things to be done by the book. We do a safety leaflet and it was quite a subject for him, he used to get worked up about bad chimneys and always asked for more leaflets to hand out,” he said.
“He took great pride in what he did. Tony was a great example to a lot of the younger guys that come along.”
Several years ago, Mr Gissing completed a Chimney Engineering Level 2 Qualification which Mr Glynn said was a real achievement.
“It’s true to say, he had the highest award possible for chimney sweeps,” he added. “I will miss him as a friend as well as a colleague.
“He was so dedicated, if you cut him in half, he was NACS right through.”
In February this year, Mr and Mrs Gissing were halfway through a two-week cruise on board the Thomson Majesty when the boat hit the headlines worldwide following the death of five crew members during a routine safety exercise.
They had been on an excursion and returned to their boat to find it surrounded with emergency vehicles.