A north-east oil worker killed in a helicopter crash off the coast of Norway has been described as a “loving” family man who was an “ambassador” for his hometown.
Iain Stuart was among the 13 who died when a Super Puma crashed on the island of Turoey, west of Bergen, on Friday.
The 41-year-old grew up in Laurencekirk, where he settled with his wife Amy and two children.
Residents of the town were in shock yesterday, and described him as a “friendly, tremendous ambassador for the community.”
And at nearby Brechin Golf Club, where Mr Stuart was a member, the flag at the first tee flew at half mast in tribute.
The Airbus EC225, operated by CHC Helicopters, was flying from the Gullfaks oilfield to Bergen when it went down.
Mr Stuart worked for Houston-based oilfield services company Halliburton which lost three other employees on board the craft. The remaining passengers worked for Aker Solutions, Schlumberger, WellTec, Statoil, while the two pilots worked for CHC.
Norwegian authorities are leading the investigation into the crash, however a team from the UK’s Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) has flown out to assist.
It is understood Mr Stuart’s devastated father, Jim – who himself is well known in the town, heading up the community council – has also flown out to Norway.
A statement released by the family last night said: “We as a family are devastated at the loss of Iain in Friday’s tragic helicopter crash in Norway.
“Iain was a loving husband and devoted father to his two children and as a family we are heartbroken. He was a caring son, brother, uncle and friend to many.
“We are appreciative of all the messages of support and kind thoughts.”
Shocked locals also paid tribute to Mr Stuart, and said he was popular and well-thought of around the town.
One man, who did not want to be named, said: “It is a huge hit on the community. He was a very, very nice, very smiley chap and really a tremendous ambassador for Laurencekirk.
“He was certainly highly-respected. The family is well-known and he was particularly popular and just a really nice guy.
“He was a tremendous example of what a young guy should be.
“He had a very successful career, he has been involved in community things, it has an impact on a relatively small community.”
Perry Akhtar, a bartender at Alma’s Indian Restaurant and Bar, said Mr Stuart would often pop in for a curry and a pint.
“He was a very good and very quiet person,” he said.
“He was very friendly, he sometimes came here with a big table for eight to 10 people, sometimes he came with his family, he was very nice and very friendly.
“Everyone is very sad right now, everyone in the village is sad. It is a big loss for our little community. Everyone knows each other here.”
Owner Azah Miah added: “Laurencekirk will really miss him. That is the way of life here.”
Laurencekirk councillor Jean Dick said it was a “terrible” tragedy, and that her thoughts were with his family.
She added: “It is terrible. I didn’t know him personally, but I know his parents, especially his father who does a lot for the local community.
“I’d express my condolences to the family. He was very popular. All I can really say is my thoughts are with them, it is just awful.”
Tributes also poured in on social media, with Dawn Tommo adding: “A really lovely lad at school and had the pleasure of playing darts with him recently after a gap of 25 years, a lovely guy who adored his family.”