TRIBUTES have been paid to the prolific artist and designer Katie Lake, who died while snorkelling in the sea at Seaton.
Katie, 40, was pulled from the sea at about 7.30pm last Tuesday and flown to Derriford Hospital, Plymouth, but medical staff were unable to save her.
Police believe she may have suffered a medical episode while swimming.
Describing her as "a master of friendship" and a "New Age socialite", friends and family of the blacksmith said she will be sorely missed.
There were also tributes from the celebrity world, with TV presenter Kirstie Allsopp – who worked with her on Channel 4 show Kirstie's Vintage Christmas – describing her as a "joy to work with and a real talent".
Katie's sister, Julie Board, said: "My parents, my sister Jennie, our partners and the rest of our family are simply trying to come to terms with her sudden passing, leaving such a major hole in our lives.
"She will be deeply missed and constantly remembered and celebrated."
Mrs Board paid tribute to her sister's caring nature – she was a leading promoter of the South West arts scene.
Having moved to Plymouth in the late Nineties to study, and later work, at Plymouth College of Art, Ms Lake began the establishment of affordable artists' studios and facilities.
She was instrumental in the development of the Flameworks Creative Arts Facility, which opened in 2000, and worked with Plymouth Tuition Services helping pupils design and create their own metalwork.
"No one could possibly keep tabs on everything Katie was doing," Mrs Board said.
Close friend and neighbour, Jon Mcloughlin, described Ms Lake as a popular woman, with many friends.
"Katie was a master of art, cookery, scrabble, cards and most of all, friendship," he said.
Mr Mcloughlin, a detective at Devon and Cornwall Police, was with Ms Lake at the time of her death.
He pulled her from the water and, with other people, attempted CPR while they waited for paramedics to arrive.
"My partner Gemma and I were privileged to have shared her last moments with her at Seaton and we will miss her each and every day," he said.
Close friend Rebecca Pearce described Ms Lake as a "New Age socialite", whose influence in the arts scene would have a lasting effect.