The family and girlfriend of a teenage student from Little Horwood who died in Bath have paid tribute to ‘beautiful, wonderful’ Henry Burke.
Henry, 19, who played for Buckingham Rugby Club, was pulled from the River Avon after going missing in the early hours of Friday morning minutes after texting his girlfriend Emma Comley, 20, to say he loved her.
Formal identification has not yet taken place but police have informed Henry’s family after dad Paul, a sales director, mum Sarah, a teacher, and younger brothers, aged 11 and 17, had come from Little Horwood to Bath to help find him.
They have since released a touching tribute: “Henry was a star that burned so bright in our lives. His passing has yet to sink in however, the pain of his parting cannot be expressed,” they said in a statement.
“He was a beautiful, wonderful young man who lived life to the full. His college life and friends, particularly his housemates, (his second family), were a real joy to him.
“His happiness with his girlfriend Emma knew no bounds. Playing rugby with his college, his endless trips to the gym and skiing with the ski club were his passions.
“His friends from his early years were strong and true as were the families and residents of Little Horwood Manor who treated him like their own as he grew from a little toddler to a strong young man.
“He was taking his first steps on his own, living away from home, starting to take responsibility for his own life.
“He was beginning to put in place the foundations of the hopes and dreams he had for the future. So so tragically cut short.
“Finally his family. His aunts, his uncles, his Nan, his cousins and his mum and dad. Henry will know that he will always be loved, treasured and remembered.
“And so to probably the two most important members of his family -his two younger brothers Piers and Oscar.
“Whilst they fought like all siblings do their love and respect for each other was unlimited. He protected them whenever they needed protection.
“He set a fine example (sometimes of what not to do!). But reading his youngest brothers message earlier summed Henry up perfectly - ‘He wasn’t just my brother, he was my second dad. I haven’t got enough fingers to count how many times he has saved my life’.
“Henry will be missed more than any words possible. With deepest sadness, pride and absolute love we honour our wonderful and beautiful boy.”
In a moving tribute on Facebook Henry’s girlfriend Emma Comley described him as her “soulmate” as questions are raised over 11 deaths in same stretch of water in recent years.
She launched a frantic social media appeal to find him - but hours later a body was found in the River Avon near the club in Bath, Somerset, where Henry was last seen.
His girlfriend Emma posted a short video of herself cuddling the second year Geography student after the body was found on Saturday.
She wrote: “I miss you my darling boy. You have my entire heart, just as you always said, I’m yours. Forever and always. Sleep tight my soulmate.”
She said: “Apparently there was a scrap between two people just before he left and he tried to break that up.
“That’s how we believe he got kicked out the club as it was misinterpreted.
“He was trying to stop it and it got misinterpreted and he left in a huff and a puff.”
Police were called when he didn’t come home or turn up for work as a tour guide at Bath Abbey on Friday.
In 2013 an 850-yard fence was installed along a stretch of the river to improve water safety.