A classic car restorer has drowned after jumping into a freezing pond to rescue his beloved labrador.
Tim Waddingham, 53, was walking on a snow-covered golf course next to his home when his dog Podge wandered on to a frozen pond.
The five-year-old labrador is thought to have fallen through thin ice into the freezing water.
Fearing for his dog, Mr Waddingham took some of his clothes off and jumped into the pond to rescue it. During the rescue attempt he got into difficulty and drowned as his dog swam to safety.
When Mr Waddingham, a former amateur Jaguar car racer, failed to return home an hour later, his wife Sarah, 37, went looking for him on the golf course.
She came across Podge sitting on her husband’s clothes next to the pond shortly after 9am on Sunday, a close family friend said.
Police divers later recovered Mr Waddingham’s body. He was pronounced dead at the scene by paramedics.
Yesterday relatives were trying to comfort his wife and their seven-year-old daughter Louisa at the £1.5million family home in West Sussex.
Speaking outside the gates of the farmhouse, a relative said: ‘It was an act of reckless foolishness that was done for love. He left the house in the morning contented. It was a wrong decision to go and help the dog at this time of year. The family are all cut up dreadfully.’
Mr Waddingham, who ran a classic car restoration firm specialising in Jaguars from his home, regularly walked his dog at the golf club. There are several water features on its three nine-hole courses.
Photographer Max Grizaard, 53, a former school friend who was Mr Waddingham’s best man, said the death was ‘a tragedy for everyone who knew and loved Tim’.
Robert Coucher, the international editor of classic car magazine Octane, said he met Mr Waddingham in 2006 when he asked him to restore a 1955 Jaguar XK140.
'Tim was one of the foremost experts when it came to classic cars, especially Jaguars,’ he said. ‘He knew everything there was to know about Jaguars. He was a very skilled engineer and he had clients all over the world.’
Yesterday after conducting a post mortem examination a pathologist gave the cause of death as drowning. An inquest was opened and adjourned. A police spokesman said: ‘Officers are investigating. At this stage it is believed there are no suspicious circumstances surrounding the death.’
Up to three inches of snow are expected to fall this evening on the Midlands, Lincolnshire and East Anglia. London, the South and parts of Yorkshire are due to get up to 1.5 inches.
Temperatures will plunge as low as minus 7c (19f) in central and eastern England tomorrow night, and daytime levels will struggle to rise above minus 1c (30f) in some parts of the country.
Forecasters are warning that low temperatures will cause a ‘slow thaw’ leaving the snow on the ground well into the weekend.
The cold snap is expected to have relaxed its grip by Sunday, although night-time temperatures will still fall below zero in parts of England into next week.
Despite freezing conditions over most of England, much of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are experiencing milder weather.