Missing passenger 'a gentle soul'

Maldon and Burnham Standard: Huan Peen Chan studied at the University of Sunderland. Huan Peen Chan studied at the University of Sunderland.

A pastor has paid tribute to a passenger on board the Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 who came to Britain to study, saying he was "one of life's lovely guys".

Engineer Huan Peen Chan, 46, spent four years at Sunderland University and played the organ at a local church before returning to his native Malaysia where he married and had two sons.

John Cropley was pastor of Sunderland Free Church when Mr Chan - known as Jesse - was a member of the church.

He said: "It's devastating.

"He was just one of life's lovely guys.

"He was so gentle, he had a lovely smile and he was so willing.

"He played the organ and piano in church.

"He was never grumpy, always the same and you could depend on him - just a gentle soul."

His former pastor said members of the church kept in touch after Mr Chan graduated in 1995 and would regularly visit him in Malaysia.

He married Janet in Kuala Lumpur and the couple had two sons.

The pastor said: "We cannot imagine how Janet and the boys are feeling."

Mr Chan was one of 26 employees of the same company on board the plane.

A spokesperson for the University of Sunderland said: "We are deeply concerned to hear reports that one of our graduates, Huan Peen Chan, who studied at the University of Sunderland between 1992 and 1995, may be one of the passengers on board the missing Malaysia Airlines plane.

"Although we are not able to confirm these reports at this time, we wish to pass on our thoughts to the family at this difficult time."

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