BY LISA HARDING
Former Nailsea School pupil Ross Baker was in Thailand taking a break from his starring role in a touring production of the hit musical Fame when the huge wave devastated the region on Boxing Day.
His cousin, Jodie Baker, and his brother, Peter, flew out to Koh Phi Phi in the hope of finding the talented actor, singer and musician.
But after making enquiries on the island, Ross' family now believes the 26-year-old was among hundreds of tourists to die in the humanitarian disaster.
They are hoping that, in due course, Ross' body will be identified and flown back to the UK. In the meantime, they are planning a memorial service to celebrate his life.
Jodie said Ross' parents and brother were too 'overwhelmed with grief' to talk about their loss, but on behalf of the family, she paid tribute to her cousin.
Jodie said: "Having been out to Thailand, we are now convinced that Ross died when the tsunami struck on Boxing Day.
"Ross was unique. Everybody who met him loved him.
"He was outgoing, funny, a real optimist and always making people laugh.
"He loved his work and was so happy and confident, kind and generous.
"It's no exaggeration to say he had hundreds of friends throughout the world.
"We are so grateful to Adam Spiegel Productions, Ross' employer, who paid for our trip to Thailand and have been unbelievably supportive.
"I know the cast are missing Ross not just in terms of the role he played in the musical, but because of who he was."
Ross got five A' levels at grade A at Nailsea School and after a brief spell at Leeds University, followed his dream and enrolled at Birmingham University to study music and drama.
After completing a postgraduate course in musical theatre at London's Royal Academy of Music, Ross spent three years starring in productions on cruise ships.
He had been starring in Fame since September and had appeared in more than 120 shows.