AN experienced diver from Bury Sub Aqua Club has died during a weekend trip to the Isle of Man.

Eric Warburton, aged 62, suddenly lost consciousness when he surfaced from a dive near Sugarloaf Rocks around 4pm on Friday.

Colleagues battled desperately to resuscitate Mr Warburton, of Richardson Close, Whitefield, while the boat sped back to Port St Mary harbour.

At the shore, lifeboat crews took over first aid, before police, an ambulance and a sea king helicopter carrying paramedics attended around 20 minutes later.

But Mr Warburton, who was the longest-serving member of Bury Sub Aqua Club, was pronounced dead at the scene. David Kneen, operations manager at the Port St Mary Lifeboat Station, said four members of his team had tried to resuscitate Mr Warburton.

He said: “The people involved were his friends, and they had only arrived that morning for their holiday. They did their best, and could not have done anything more.”

Bury Sub Aqua Club, based at Castle Leisure Centre in Bolton Street, runs regular diving trips for their 40 members and celebrated its 40th anniversary last October.

A statement released by Alan Brown, the club’s diving officer, said the circumstances of the incident were being investigated by the relevant authorities and the club was not in a position to comment.

But it added: “Members of the Bury Sub Aqua club are very much saddened by the loss our fellow club member who collapsed and died following a dive on Friday.

“We wish to express our condolences to the friends and family of our longest serving member.”

It is believed that Mr Warburton and nine other club divers had been exploring the Sugarloaf Caves, which are only accessible by boat.

It is understood Mr Warburton worked as a technician in the school of chemical engineering and analytical science at Manchester University.

James Adams, a friend and fellow diver, tweeted his condolences. He said: “Eric Warburton was our friend. I hope at the end he knew how hard we fought for him.Sorry it wasn’t enough. RIP Eric. We miss you.”

Sue Spence responded: “Thinking of the dive guys in the Isle of Man, such tragic news, condolences to the family x RIP Eric x.”

Neighbours of Mr Warburton, who is believed to have lived alone, paid tribute to a quiet man who “kept himself to himself”.

One neighbour said: “This is a big shock. I hadn’t seen him for a while because he tended to do his own thing. It is very sad.”

Another neighbour added: “I knew him enough to say hello but he tended to keep himself to himself.”

Isle of Man Constabulary confirmed it was conducting inquiries and Mr Warburton’s next of kin had been notified.