19th July 2022

Nicola, 46, from Nottingham knows how important the safety advice is. Her son Owen, 12, sadly lost his life and drowned after rescuing a friend who got into trouble in the water.

A woman on a beach with an RNLI banner

Owen and his friends were at Beeston Weir. Two members of his group decided to go for a swim in the river and very quickly got into difficulty. Owen was showing a friend how to skim stones from the weir steps, he was not a confident swimmer but could swim. He saw his friends in difficulty and went into the water, going to the friend who was in the most difficulty first.

A group of boys playing rugby

His friend had started to panic as the water was pulling her under so she needed help. Owen got to her and picked her up out of the water he was able to take her back to the steps to safety. Owen re-entered the water for the second girl who had drifted further but the currents were too strong and he was pulled under. Owen did not resurface.

Nicola says:

I’ll never get over what happened to Owen that day at Beeston Weir, he was sweet, innocent and selfless and it is consistent with his character that he risked his own life to save his friend. No parent should ever have to go through the pain of losing their child, words cannot describe how much we miss him. We knew we had to do something to avoid anything like this ever happening again and so we created OWEN – Open Water Education Network, a water education programme for adults and children. We use Owen’s story as ‘what not to do’. He didn’t know what to do when the girls got into difficulty. He thought that he was helping by going into the water to save them. Had Owen and the girls known this then he might be here today. It’s just so important that people remember, if you get into trouble in the water, call 999 and make sure the emergency services are alerted.

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