The family of a man who was found dead after he was missing for five days in Jamaica have paid tribute to an “amazing father”.
Robert Dyer, aged 60, who grew up in Lewisham and lived in Thamesmead, was found dead in the Ballards Valley area after he got lost on November 5 during a visit to his see his brother in the country.
The national army and police forces, as well as about 250 residents had been helping in the search for Robert.
Robert made a “delirious” call to his wife Anne Dyer on Monday telling her he was lost. On Friday the family received news that he had been found overnight in a hilly forested area.
The family believe he was dehydrated without water for a long time and was unable to move. Arrangements for Robert’s body to be repatriated back to the UK for his funeral are being made with a post-mortem in Jamaica set to take place.
His son, Lewis Dyer, 41, a software engineer who lives in Malaga, Spain, said his dad was a “working class hero”.
“I couldn’t have asked for a better dad,” said Lewis. “He worked two jobs – one at McDonald’s and one at KFC – to provide for the family. That’s the kind of guy he was.”
Lewis said he didn’t have much growing up, his parents were living in a hostel at he age of 17, but his dad did everything he could to provide for them.
“We never had much but love and family, and he was the spearhead of that. He was the perfect dad.”
They managed to buy the house in Thamesmead through the right to buy scheme and Robert was able to set up his personal trainer career. He also had a brief brush up with stardom, featuring in soul band Touch, who managed a chart hit.
“He loved music,” said Lewis. “He loved fitness too, he was an amateur boxer. He taught me to follow my passions. Everyone who met him thought ‘what a cool guy’. It’s not often you meet someone with strength like him but who is also gentle.
“I learned everything I need to be a good man. We’re devastated. My kids absolutely loved him. I just have images of them walking down the street saying something silly. They called him ‘Pop’. It’s hard thinking that’s it, there’s no more memories.”
Lewis said his grandfather, Robert’s dad, came to the UK from Jamaica when there were “hardly any black people” in Lewisham.
Robert went to the since closed Samuel Pepys Secondary School for Boys in Walbutton Road, Brockley.
After his foray into the music world he started his own fitness instructor company and went on to give classes across South London leisure centres.
He helped people from all ages and places in the community to get fit and “get their confidence back”.
He had recently been given the all clear from a prostate cancer diagnosis. In the last couple of years he had held community sessions with men to help them talk about prostate cancer.
Lewis said it was “horrific” that his dad had worked hard all his life and only just retired for a “freak accident” to happen.
“He was taken from us too early,” said Lewis. “He was fit and strong. He had loads more to give. In his last moment he would have felt proud of himself and his family.”
Pictured top: (Picture: Family handout)
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