Photograph Ed Sheeran
An inquest is being held into the death of a former Royal Navy mine clearance expert who was killed in a landmine explosion in Sudan.
Stephen Allan, 52, died in the explosion while working for the Mines Advisory Group (MAG) in Kapoeta, southern Sudan, on October 15 last year.
Mr Allan, from Portsmouth, was known as Darby to his wife, son and daughter, and friends.
Before starting at MAG in 2006 he had served as a Royal Navy explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) expert for more than 30 years.
The inquest will be heard by Portsmouth and South East Hampshire Coroner David Horsley at Portsmouth Guildhall today (Tuesday April 12th 2011).
Mr Allan's wife, Karen, said in a statement released after his death:
"Darby has, from the moment I met him, been my hero.
"To Sarah and David he was not just their father but was an 'action hero', a man that made things happen.
"He was a gritty, humorous man who commanded friendship and respect from colleagues and friends, a person who was not just larger than life but was, in fact, life.
"We are proud to say we were part of that life and it was a great, great adventure. Thank you for the adventure."
His children, Sarah Taylor and David Allan, said in a joint statement:
"You lived life to the extreme, reaching unthinkable limits, whether it was breaking records to the deepest depths or pulling bodies from sinking planes, or blowing bombs around the world.
"The stuff that is only in people's wildest dreams and worst nightmares was for you just another day at the office."
Mr Allan's work for MAG also included managing an underwater clearance project in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
MAG chief executive Lou McGrath said:
"Darby was motivated by the positive change he and his team made every day to people in the communities where he worked.
"He took pride in reducing the risks communities faced and that his work would allow them to develop their futures in more safety. Darby did not have to be in Sudan, he chose to be.
"He was a true humanitarian who believed in making a difference and the world will be a lesser place without him."