TRIBUTES have been paid to best man Patrick Cody, from Sedgley. whose body was recovered from a hotel lake three days after he had gone skinny dipping during his friends’ wedding reception.

Family and friends gathered in the grounds of Patshull Park Hotel, Golf and Country Club, near Wolverhampton, as a police underwater search intensified on Monday evening and his distraught father Denis was there to receive the grim news that a body had been found at 7pm.

Patrick’s uncle, former Dudley mayor Bill Cody, from Wall Heath, said different members of the close-knit family had kept a vigil at the lakeside as the specialist police team from Nottingham carried out the pains-staking the search through the deep water.

He was with his 60-year-old brother, headteacher of St Joseph’s RC Primary School, Dudley, at the popular wedding reception venue in Pattingham, when police broke the news, ending the family’s three days of torment.

The 26-year-old had gone for a late night swim in the lake just hours after he and two other best men made a joint speech at the wedding reception of close friends David Abbiss and Sarah Jane Shaw, from Wombourne.

David, also aged 26, and Patrick had been friends since their schooldays at Bishop Milner Catholic School, Dudley, and they and 25-year-old Sarah Jane had regularly attended St Chad’s RC Church, Sedgley, where the couple were married on Friday.

A relative, who was a guest at the wedding, said on the advice of family the devastated couple had flown out to Florida on Sunday for their honeymoon.

"It was felt that it was best they get away at this time," he said, adding that they had been informed by phone that Patrick’s body had been found.

“Their thoughts are with the Cody family. Obviously this is a very distressing thing for the whole family and for his friends.” he said.

A tribute from his family, including parents Denis and Elizabeth, a 59-year-old retired teacher, said: “Patrick was a friendly, popular and much loved son, brother and friend. He had a passion for music, literature and sport and a lively sense of humour.

“His whole family is devastated by the loss of a young man who loved life and brought such happiness to so many.”

Patrick, who has a sister Anna, aged 27, who is also a teacher, was planning to follow in the family tradition and was due to start a teacher training PGCE course at Birmingham University in September.

A keen Aston Villa fan, he attended St Chad’s RC Primary School, Sedgley and Bishop Milner Catholic School, Dudley, and was a graduate of Keele University. He lived at the family home in Aylesford Close.

Hotel manager Stephen Kimbells said staff, golfers, leisure members and the local community had been shocked by the tragedy.

“We have looked after family and friends who stayed as well as we could and made sure they were fed and watered. The situation turned very quickly from a missing person to him being found and we didn’t have the chance to pass on our condolences,” he added.