South West Wales

Friends pay tribute to Swansea teenager Michael Cura, 16

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Media captionFather Jason Jones said there had been an "outpouring of grief" following Michael's death

The friends of a teenager from Swansea who died on a cycle trip through Spain have described him as an "inspiration" who always put other people first.

Michael Cura, 16, of Bishop Vaughan Catholic School, died on Thursday while on a 560-mile pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela in the Galicia region.

Medical reasons are understood to be the cause of his death.

Friends from Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Church, where Michael was an altar boy, paid tribute to him.

Michael, of Morriston, had been on the Camino de Santiago - also known as Way of St James and St James's Path - on the pilgrim route to the Catholic shrine.

He and 20 other pupils and eight staff were nine days into the cycling journey near the end of their trip when he died.

Michael's family flew out to Spain on Friday and Swansea council said the school had arranged for the remaining pupils and staff to return home on Saturday.

Family friend Heather Harris said: "I remember Michael as a very quiet, studious, thoughtful, just a lovely, lovely boy. He will be greatly missed by everybody.

"There's a great sense of disbelief. I don't think we've taken it in yet."

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Image caption Santiago de Compostela is in the north-west corner of Spain

She said he was "always willing to help" and was involved with a church charity organisation which takes disabled and able-bodied children on pilgrimage.

Mary-Ellen Courtney, 19, said there was "heartbreak and sheer shock" among the congregation.

"Mikey was quite possibly the most selfless person I have ever met on this planet," she said.

"He was one of the happiest, joyous people I've ever had the pleasure of meeting.

"He was so generous in giving himself to so many people, sharing who he was."

Friend Emily Davies described him as an "inspiration" and a "real gentleman" who "lit up the room".

"He has made such an impact on so many of us... he spent his whole life helping other people," she said.

Image caption The Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Church in Morriston

Parish priest Father Jason Jones said Michael was very involved in setting up a parish youth group and showed "care and compassion".

"This particular pilgrimage he was on while cycling to Santiago was also in one way a fundraiser for different acts of charity in the area," he said.

"The outpouring of grief, the sadness of the situation and the numbers who have been coming here for mass... have been a wonderful testimony to the affection that they have for Michael, their friendship towards him and also their support for the family."

The school said staff and pupils were "devastated by the sudden death".

School sources said Michael's death was not the result of an accident and no other pupils were involved.

A Foreign Office spokesman said: "We are providing support to the family of a British national following their sad death in Spain."

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