A man who died rescuing his dog from a river in Spain has been described as the “heart of his family”.

Paul Lebihan, from Gateshead, got into difficulties in the Bolulla River, near Benidorm, on Monday.

The 25-year-old amateur boxer was visiting fiancée Tabatha Abbott and regularly travelled there after the pair met while he was on holiday.

His cousin Kallym Bell, 19, has set up a fundraising appeal to help his family cover repatriation and funeral costs.

The online campaign has already topped more than £12,000 over several days.

Mr Lebihan, pictured with his parents, was described as “the life of his family”
Mr Bell said his cousin “made such a positive impact on everyone else”.

“It shows you the kind of kid he was, that so many people have come forward,” he added.

“The support has been brilliant, it just sums him up as a character – that he was willing to help so many people and when we needed help for him it shows you how much he influenced others.”

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The incident happened near the Fonts de l’Algar nature reserve in the Costa Blanca.

Mr Lebihan had been rescuing his dog Alex, who survived the incident.

Mr Lebihan, who has also served in the Royal Navy, was well known in Leam Lane where he grew up.

His parents, Deborah and Paul, have flown to Spain.

Mr Bell said his cousin was “the very best to be around”.

“He was the happiest I’d seen him,” added.

“He was the life of the family, he was the heart of the family,one of the biggest family men ever and he would do anything for anyone – he had so many friends.

“To lose someone that influential, that important to everyone’s lives, everyone is still in shock.

“He boxed from the age of 12, he’s a very talented boxer, he fought numerous times, he loved it – it was his passion – even when he went into the Navy he continued his boxing.

“We just want him back to where he belongs with family so he can be put to rest properly.”

A spokesperson for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office said: “We are supporting the family of a British man who died in Spain.”

A man who died rescuing his dog from a river in Spain has been described as the “heart of his family”.

Paul Lebihan, from Gateshead, got into difficulties in the Bolulla River, near Benidorm, on Monday.

The 25-year-old amateur boxer was visiting fiancée Tabatha Abbott and regularly travelled there after the pair met while he was on holiday.

His cousin Kallym Bell, 19, has set up a fundraising appeal to help his family cover repatriation and funeral costs.

The online campaign has already topped more than £12,000 over several days.

Mr Lebihan, pictured with his parents, was described as “the life of his family”
Mr Bell said his cousin “made such a positive impact on everyone else”.

“It shows you the kind of kid he was, that so many people have come forward,” he added.

“The support has been brilliant, it just sums him up as a character – that he was willing to help so many people and when we needed help for him it shows you how much he influenced others.”

The incident happened near the Fonts de l’Algar nature reserve in the Costa Blanca.

Mr Lebihan had been rescuing his dog Alex, who survived the incident.

Mr Lebihan, who has also served in the Royal Navy, was well known in Leam Lane where he grew up.

His parents, Deborah and Paul, have flown to Spain.

Mr Bell said his cousin was “the very best to be around”.

“He was the happiest I’d seen him,” added.

“He was the life of the family, he was the heart of the family,one of the biggest family men ever and he would do anything for anyone – he had so many friends.

“To lose someone that influential, that important to everyone’s lives, everyone is still in shock.

“He boxed from the age of 12, he’s a very talented boxer, he fought numerous times, he loved it – it was his passion – even when he went into the Navy he continued his boxing.

“We just want him back to where he belongs with family so he can be put to rest properly.”

A spokesperson for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office said: “We are supporting the family of a British man who died in Spain.”