Robert Hattersley: Crawcrook teen's parents 'miss his voice' as they highlight water dangers

  • Video report by Kris Jepson

The mother of a schoolboy who drowned in the River Tyne has described how the family "just miss hearing his voice" as she spoke out for the first time.

Stella Hattersley's 13-year-old son Robert died after getting into difficulty while swimming with friends near Ovingham, in Northumberland, in July.

A major search operation was launched following his disappearance and his body was later found in the water.

In a bid to help prevent further deaths, the Crawcrook teen's parents have started fundraising to raise awareness of the dangers of open water.

Mrs Hattersley told ITV News Tyne Tees: "He wasn’t there for my birthday, but we just sat next to his grave and had a picnic and that and me and Emma put little cupcakes and that on his grave and salt and vinegar crisps.

"It has been hard, upsetting and other than that we just miss hearing his voice.

"We just don’t want it to happen to any other parents because it is horrible and it makes us distraught and we’re trying to keep other kids safe, because we don’t want it to happen to any other kids."

Robert Hattersley attended Thorp Academy in Ryton. Credit: Family photo

Her husband Carl said if they were able to launch their planned Robert Hattersley Foundation, it would help raise awareness of the dangers of open water, but also support other bereaved families.

He said: "If we can get into schools with it as well, let them know about the Robert Hattersley Foundation charity, that’s the one that we’re trying to get up and running and get help with at the moment to get the big message out to parents the dangers of waters and we’ve got the wrist bands on, we’ve got the water safety booklet."

Speaking of the day his son went missing, he described it as his "worst nightmare".

Robert Hattersley poses for a photo in a river. Credit: Family photo

His voice breaking as he held back his tears, he explained: "When they said Robert was missing I couldn’t sit in the house, I couldn’t. I said ‘I can’t’, I had to go and look for myself.

"I didn’t know where he was or nothing, I didn’t know if he was up there. I went out the house and went up there to look for him myself as well.

"[At] 11 or 12 o'clock we got told they’d found him dead and me and my wife just broke down. It’s a bit too hard to explain as a parent what you go through at the time when you lose your own child.

"It’s the worst thing we’ve ever gone through losing a bairn. I think any parent would feel the same way as us."

Carl Hattersley said: "It’s the worst thing we’ve ever gone through losing a bairn." Credit: ITV New Tyne Tees

Robert's mum added that the last few months had been "hard and upsetting", but said what kept her going was remembering her son's smile.

She said: "He was a happy young man. He always liked to be out and playing with friends and loved football and he was a kind little boy, always happy, always went out with a smile on his face."

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