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Tributes for swimmer killed in Sydney shark attack who 'made the earth better'

Friends of a British man killed by a shark in Australia have described how the news “hit us like a truck”.

They said 35-year-old Simon Nellist was “one of the people that makes this earth better”.

It is believed Mr Nellist, 35, was training for a forthcoming charity swim when he was fatally attacked in front of horrified onlookers in Sydney’s Little Bay beach on Wednesday afternoon.

The incident was the first fatal shark attack in Australia’s largest city since 1963.

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The experienced diving instructor, who was originally from Cornwall and was engaged to be married, suffered “catastrophic injuries”, officials said.

Image:
Sydney’s beaches were closed after the attack. Pic: Tudor Maude

His family said the world had lost a “wonderful human being” and “very talented photographer”.

Della Ross, a friend of Mr Nellist, told broadcaster 7News: “Everything that is connected to Simon, to me is connected to the ocean.

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“The news hit us like a truck because he is really one of the people that makes this earth better.”

A neighbour living in the Wolli Creek area of Sydney described him as “such a nice guy”.

His family also released an emotional tribute.

“Simon was a gentle, kind and wonderful human being,” it said. “He was a cherished fiance, son, brother, uncle and friend.”

They went on to tell the BBC: “Simon was funny, compassionate and always had time for people. He had a rare gift of instantly being able to connect with others, gaining their trust and respect.”

Mr Nellist’s family said he was a “proud Cornishman” who had made Australia his home with his fiance Jessie.

The 5k Malabar Ocean Swim, due to take place this weekend, was cancelled as a mark of respect, organisers said.

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