A KAYAKING instructor from Hampshire has died while out on the water abroad, leaving a community in shock.

Tributes have been paid to 28-year-old Tuan Brillet, formerly of Lymington, who had been kayaking on the Dropt River in the Aquitaine area of France.

The alarm was raised by his parents when Mr Brillet did not return from a kayaking trip and a major search operation was launched on September 13.

But the instructor’s body was found the next day.

It has been reported by local press in France that an investigation has been launched into the circumstances of what happened, but authorities believe at this stage it was an accident.

Mr Brillet had been a kayaking instructor at Lymington Sea Baths and the Daily Echo understands he had grown up in the town.

Rob Taylor, of Milford-on-Sea, ran Seahawk Kayaking with Mr Brillet, coaching together at the sea baths for three years until 2013.

Mr Taylor said he believed Mr Brillet had been living in France with his parents for the past year, though travelling frequently back to the UK, and that the incident had happened while they were holidaying in France.

But he said he was still struggling to come to terms with his friend’s death.

“I’m mystified and very, very upset,” he said.

“I don’t know all the details. Having spent an enormous amount of time together teaching people how to be safe I want to know what happened.

“I’m struggling to believe it’s happened. He was a very experienced kayaker.”

‘Natural flair’

Mr Taylor paid tribute to Mr Brillet, a former pupil at Priestlands School in Pennington and Brockenhurst College, who he said had two siblings and enjoyed playing football and was always active.

They first met when they were coaches together at the college six years ago.

“He had a natural flair when it came to the younger kids – he seemed to be able to get them very enthused which was a very rare quality, he could their attention,” he said.

“He was a lovely lad, great fun to be with and really nice.

“People in Lymington are distraught – he was very popular.

“A lot of our coaching buddies are pretty shocked by it.

“I think some of the coaches will get together for a paddle in remembrance.”

Tributes to Mr Brillet have also flooded in on social networking site Facebook.

One friend, Tom Barr, said: “Tuan Brillet, the world has lost someone so special in you.

“Your happiness was infectious to everyone and you were there for everyone who needed you.

“I will never forget you and I will keep those thousands of memories with me for the rest of my life.”

Another said: “An inspiration to so many in this town. R. I. P Tuan Brillet, so many memories.

“Happiest person I’ll ever know. Such a waste.”