“He was an easy going, fun loving man - you couldn’t have asked for better” sister’s tribute to the former gangmaster found dead in the Nene

00:03 28 September 2014

Andy Lee

Andy Lee

Archant

The sister of a man whose body was found in the River Nene has paid tribute to the well known former gangmaster who she said would help anybody out if they were in trouble.

Kate Barnes and her partner Barry Bennett have fond memories of Andy LeeKate Barnes and her partner Barry Bennett have fond memories of Andy Lee

Andy Lee, 64, who had been missing for five days before he was discovered, was a well known figure in the area having ran Packwell gangmaster agency for more than 30 years until it folded in around 2003.

At its height he had a fleet of around 40 vehicles employing hundreds of people from around the Fens, said his sister Kate Barnes, who said it was a tragic end for a man who had been such a dynamic presence before battling depression in his latter years.

Ms Barnes, 63, of Anderson Close, Wisbech, said: “He was very well known and loved. Our father Jack was a gangmaster employing people on the land and Andy followed the trade but employing people for factory work.

“He was a hard worker and built it into a successful business. He also had rented properties,” she said and added that he did so well he eventually moved from a large bungalow to live in Hastings House on Mill Road in Wiggenhall St Germans, near King’s Lynn, a six bedroom property with paddocks and stabling.

Andy Lee with medical equipment collected for Romanian orphanagesAndy Lee with medical equipment collected for Romanian orphanages

However, she believes his fortunes took a turn for the worse when property prices dipped around 2003, and as his marriage ended and property prices slipped he reluctantly wound up his business and properties.

“He went from living the best life to losing everything. At one point he lived in the Ferry Project hostel in Wisbech for about seven months,” she said.

But his nature was such that despite once living the dream, when it ended he was never too proud to go back to work and he happily took on a factory job at Stream Foods of Walsoken followed by a spell of forklift truck driving.

She said: “He was never above himself, even when he was successful, he never thought he was too good or look down his nose at others. He was an easy going, fun loving man - you couldn’t have asked for better.

The River Nene in Wisbech where the body of Andy Lee was foundThe River Nene in Wisbech where the body of Andy Lee was found

“He could be a bugger and loved playing tricks on people, he was mischievous but he also had a very caring side, if he knew you were in trouble he would always do his best to help out.

“At one point he donated medical equipment to Romanian orphanages.”

Mr Lee, who was living in a flat in Ramnoth Road in Wisbech, before he went missing for five days, was discovered by police on Saturday September 6.

Ms Barnes said: “The tragedy of him dying this way is he couldn’t swim. I have to concentrate on all the happy memories and celebrate his life as that is how I would rather remember.”

Hastings House where Andy Lee used to liveHastings House where Andy Lee used to live

His funeral was on Friday at Mintlyn Crematorium at 2.30pm.

•Andy Lee was due to appear at Cambridge Crown Court on Monday November 17 along with 15 other people in connection with drugs offences. He was charged with conspiracy to supply a Class A drug.

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