UPDATE: Family pay tribute to Axminster crash victim

Tributes paid to 23-year-old lifeguard with a “heart of gold”.

THE family of Axminster motorcylist Chris Ackland today paid their tributes to the 23-year-old lifeguard who died after colliding with a lorry on the A35 near Honiton on Wednesday.

In a statement, issued through the police, they said: “Chris was a loving son, brother and partner who has tragically been taken from us prematurely.

“He will be tremendously missed by all his family and friends.

“The family requests that they be left alone to grieve in peace.”

It is understood Mr Ackland was on his way to see his girlfriend Sarah Strawbridge, who works in Honiton, when he hit the truck on the Devil’s Elbow bend at around 5.15pm.

On Thursday pupils from Axminster county primary school, whom he taught to swim, linked hands around the Flamingo Pool where he worked. White roses were scattered on the water.

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Floral tributes were also laid outside Chris’ Tat Shack, in Lyme Road, where Mr Ackland had just completed a two-and-a-half year training course to become a qualified tattoo artist.

His boss there, Chris Williams, said they were devastated at his loss.

“He was a fantastic lad who would do anything for anyone. He had a heart of gold,” he said.

Mr Ackland lived at Musbury Road and had only just completed his motorcycle training course and had only ridden his new bike for four days.

Mr Williams added: “I understand he hit the lorry head on and died instantly.”

Steve Buxton, Mr Ackland’s boss at the Flamingo Pool, said: “He worked here for four years as a senior lifeguard. He was a lovely guy.”