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24th Mar 2023

Head chef, 38, dies suddenly in UK’s ‘only bar on the beach’

Steve Hopkins

‘It is comforting that if it was going to happen anywhere it happened somewhere he loved and was happy’

A fundraiser has been launched to finish the home a head chef had been renovating for his family before he died suddenly.

Matt Halford was found collapsed in the walk-in chiller of the Watering Hole on Perranporth Beach shortly after 9am Saturday after going to put a delivery away.

Despite attempts from medics and lifeguards to revive him, the 38-year-old died at the scene.

The death is not being treated as suspicious.

Matt had worked in the Watering Hole – the UK’s only bar on a beach – since he was a teen along with brothers Jason, 41, and Lee, 42 and dad Mick. Between them, they clocked up over 100 years of service, MailOnline reported.

Matt’s mum, Joanne Ballinger, paid tribute to her son saying he was “caring, he was a loving father, son and brother”, would “put anybody first and help anybody he possibly could” and was “full of life”.

The bar was initially closed over the weekend but Joanne said the family insisted it was opened for Mother’s Day because Matt had been working hard to prepare meals. It became a “very emotional” day for everybody, but she said it was “amazing and beautiful”.

She said: “The things the Watering Hole has done. My kids have been coming here since they were babies.

“It is comforting that if it was going to happen anywhere it happened somewhere he loved and was happy.”

Matt leaves behind a partner Becky, 29, and three sons Jaden, 18, Harlyn, 16, and Mekhi, 14. Both Jaden and Harlyn help out in the kitchen at the Watering Hole.

A tribute posted by the Watering Hole on Facebook reads: “With iconic legendary places that are larger than life like the watering hole, these places are made by iconic legendary characters & unfortunately we lost our MVP on Saturday. ‘We always thought the most feared day would be washing away for us, but how wrong were we. We lost the best dad, friend, brother & worker this place will ever see & it’s not easy saying this, but we will never find anyone like this again.

“Matt had worked at the watering hole all of his life, with his brothers Lee & Jason & 3 sons who have been there all of their life. Along with their dad Mick aka Mad dog who was a character to say the least.

“He was not just a huge part of the watering hole, he was the watering hole, the life & soul of everything that happened and would do anything for anyone.””Our thoughts and prayers are with all of Matt’s family & friends as we know a lot of people are going to be hurting. The Watering hole family will stick together as that’s what he would want. ‘We love you mate & can’t quite believe what has happened. Perranporth has lost its best man & captain.”

A GoFundMe page set up by Matt’s oldest son Jaden to help finish a home renovation project his dad started had raised almost £5,500 by Friday morning.

The page reads: “The reason behind this Crowdfunding is to help raise as much money as me and my family can to help finish off the house that my Dad worked so hard to self-renovate. The house was coming on exactly how dad wanted it to be and he still had massive plans but on Saturday 18th March 2023 me and my family received the tragic news that dad had suddenly passed away.”

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