AN Ambleside man who became the first Polish national to join Cumbria Fire Service in 2003 died from an alcohol-related death, an inquest heard.

Waldemar Gajdowski, 47, died at his flat at Sweden Bridge Lane, Ambleside, on January 31.

Cumbria assistant coroner Robert Chapman found that Mr Gajdowski died as a result of aspiration pneumonia – choking on stomach content – having consumed a large amount of vodka the night before.

An inquest in Kendal heard that his blood alcohol level was found to be at 335micrgrammes per 100ml of blood. For comparison, the legal driving limit it 80mg. Inhalation of gastric content and acute alcohol toxicity were also recorded as causes.

Waldemar, known as Waldek, was born in 1969 in Staszow, Poland, and was passionate about many sports activities, including football and karate.

His first trip to England was as a student doing farm work, and he went on to attend Oxford College of Further Education to study English.

It was there that he met his ex-wife, Ruth, and after living and working in London, the couple decided to move up to Ambleside in 1998 to be near Ruth’s family. In 2000, the couple had a son, Oliver.

He was also credited as being pivotal in helping to integrate Polish immigrants who came to the area following Poland's entry into the European Union in May 2004.

He worked as a retained firefighter at Ambleside Station, and also at Mountain Warehouse in the town.

It was heard at the inquest that Mr Gajdowski suffered from depression and anxiety, while injuries had prevented him doing as much sport as he had previously enjoyed. Late in 2016 he had also been diagnosed with diabetes and it was heard he had not been taking his medication, causing his health to deteriorate.

"While great at helping others he was perhaps not so good at helping himself," said Mr Chapman. "There is evidence that the night before he died he had drunk a lot of vodka. He probably had so much he fell asleep and then aspirated, and he died during the course of that.

"It's a huge shame given he was so highly regarded by family, friends and colleagues that he died in this sort of way."