THE heartbroken parents of a missing man found dead in Windermere broke down in tears as they praised the ‘wonderful community spirit’ of people in the South Lakes.

Claire and Bob Jordan faced the cameras following the discovery of 20-year-old Matthew’s body in the lake on Tuesday - bringing relief but a tragic end to their 19-day ordeal.

The popular student’s body was found by police in a small bay off the lake’s eastern shoreline called Rayrigg Wyke, Bowness - just yards from Rayrigg Road and the busy A592 - close to where sniffer dogs had detected a last trace of Matthew.

His parents, who have been in Windermere since he went missing, had pledged not to return home until they found their only child.

But they were determined to put aside their grief to thank hundreds of local people at a police press conference.

“We found you Matthew, we love you dearly and are taking you home to be at peace,” said mum Claire, 43, before breaking down in tears and being comforted.

The unexplained disappearance of the criminology student touched the hearts of South Lakeland people, with hundreds of locals and firms rallying to help find him.

Mass searches were organised in the evenings and at weekends by Windermere’s Bridget Slater and Kendal businessman Daniel Green.

“Everyone has been a great tower of strength to us over the past few difficult days. You all took Matthew to your hearts and made it your mission to find him. Without all of your help we would have been lost,” said the couple.

“For those of you who knew him, it represents what a fantastic, friendly and humorous person he was.

“For those of you who didn’t know him, yet still put a lot of your time and effort into searching for him, it shows that people in your community do care, are selfless, and have wonderful spirit.

“You have been truly fantastic and we feel part of the community now.”

However, the mystery of how Matthew ended up in the lake is now subject to a coroner’s investigation.

Police said Matthew was not drunk nor incapable of finding his way back to his guest house after having a few drinks on the night he went missing.

Investigating officer Furzana Nazir said that police did not know how he got in to the lake but said there there was no sign on his body of external injury or that he had been a victim of crime.

Neither was there any evidence of him having decided to go for a swim, she said. Despite his body being found in Rayrigg Wyke, it did not mean he had entered the water there.

Matthew was visiting the area with three friends when he was last seen on a night out in Bowness in the early hours of March 27.

He went missing after becoming separated from his friends at 12.30am at the Stag’s Head pub.

But he remained undiscovered despite hundreds of volunteers from the North East and South Lakeland who turned out to comb Windermere, Bowness, Troutbeck, Grasmere, Kendal and Burneside.

A ‘Find Matthew Jordan’ Facebook page set up by Mrs Slater was flooded with tributes and messages of support.

One post said: “This last week or so has produced the most outstanding community spirit you are ever likely to witness.

“Strangers from all walks of life, tirelessly working alongside each other in the search for a young man that we now all consider to be one of our own.”