THE family of a man who died walking home in the snow have described him as a ‘legend’.

Gary Windle, 25, was found under deep snow by a farmer in Shay Lane, Briercliffe, at around 1.30pm on Saturday after he tried to make it home in the freezing conditions.

Mum Julie Ashworth said he was a ‘larger than life character’ who loved to socialise.

Paying tribute, Mrs Ashworth said: “Thanks to everyone for their messages of kindness, help and support, along with the tributes sent to all the family by Gary’s friends.

“He was such a larger than life character and would always make us smile, losing Gary in this way has left a large hole in our lives.

“Gary loved to socialise and meet friends and this made him such a great person to have around. He will be sorely missed to all that knew him including his family and friends. He was a true legend.”

Yesterday it emerged that his family didn’t realise he was missing until his body was found.

Chief Inspector Derry Crorken, from Burnley Police, said: “When we found the body we looked for anybody who had been reported missing in the area but there was nobody. His family didn’t realise that he was missing, they thought he had stayed at a friends, it was only when they heard about the body being found that they realised it might be Gary.

“We found a mobile phone with Gary but the phone wasn’t on when we found out. We are not sure if the battery had run out or if it had broken due to the temperatures. There were no records of any calls from Gary to anyone around that time.”

Mr Windle had been out with friends when he decided to get a taxi home from a friend’s house in Colne at 4.45am. The taxi was unable to get through the snow blocked roads and dropped him a mile away in Haggate. He decided to try and walk the rest of the way, but he never made it home.

Mr Windle’s friends have raised more than £1,300 in just 24 hours to help pay for funeral costs Dane Skaife, who has set up the fundraising group, said: “We can’t bring Gaz back and we can’t make his loss feel any less devastating; but this is what we can do as a community.”

Shay Lane had been mostly cleared of snow yesterday, but eight foot piles of snow remained at the edge of the road.