Family of man who drowned trying to rescue his dog mark first anniversary of his death

Gareth's son Robbie tells ITV News Meridian's reporter Malcolm Shaw about the "huge hole" his dad has left.

The family of a man who drowned off a beach in Sussex are preparing to mark the first anniversary of his tragic death.

Gareth Jones was swept out to sea while trying to save his dog, Connie, in the Hove Lagoon area on January 16, 2020.

Gareth's son, Robbie, has since been campaigning to increase beach safety.

Robbie Jones told ITV News Meridian: "He leaves a huge hole, even what would seem like small things, going to the football... we used to travel up to watch our team Tottenham, I now travel up on my own.

"We don't talk about newspapers on the way up or have a beer on the way back, it's just me. It's very lonely at times."

  • Robbie Jones, Gareth's son:

Robbie has also been talking to children in schools to educate them about beach safety and also working with the local authorities to improve safety signs along the coastline.

He said: "Because it's local to them, it's based on Brighton and Hove tide and sea and water, it makes the bay real.

"Obviously if they see someone like me who has actually lost a dad to the water, I think a lot of the school kids were horrified and it made it very pertinent."

Gareth's local pub, The Watchmaker's Arms, which is the city's first micropub, have brewed a beer in his honour.

After discussion with Gareth's family, they decided to call it the 'COTY Pale' as he was the pub's "customer of the year".

The Watchmakers Arms have brewed a beer in Gareth's honour. Credit: ITV News Meridian

Ruth Evans, at The Watchmaker's Arms, said: "Gareth was the self-proclaimed customer of the year. He always said, if we ever had a competition for customer of the year, because he was here so often, he would be customer of the year.

"We have it regularly, it sells out normally within a day or so, because everybody wants to remember Gareth.

"We've got a little plaque on the bar where he used to stand, which we keep shiny.

Ruth Evans, of The Watchmaker's Arms pub:

"The day we opened, the 1st May 2015, he came into the pub and introduced himself and said 'My name is Gareth, I'm going to be your most regular regular', and he was, he became a permanent fixture in here from day one.

"He was full of life, interested in everybody, interested in everything, he could talk about anything.

"He was such an interesting character, he would speak to anybody.

"We still talk about him all the time. He's just a massive loss."