Mum of boy, 13, who drowned while swimming returns to spot on River Tyne to highlight danger

  • Video report by Helen Ford

The parents of a 13-year-old boy who drowned while swimming in the River Tyne have set up a foundation to promote water safety.

Stella and Carl Hattersley from Gateshead lost their son Robert after he got into difficulty while swimming near Ovingham, Northumberland, on Sunday 17 July.

Mrs Hattersley, who visited the spot for the first time since Robert'd death, paid tribute to her son, saying: "He was such a lovely lad, he was kind to everyone.

"Robert knew the dangers of the rivers and that because we told him - don't go into rivers where there's currents - but teenagers want to do their own thing."

Robert Hattersley's family said they have not yet come to terms with his death. Credit: ITV Tyne Tees

Mr Hattersley told ITV Tyne Tees how the foundation will distribute leaflets to educate other young people about the dangers of rivers.

The couple also hope that the foundation can work with local schools to provide simple safety advice.

He said: "We haven't got used to him not being there.

"When he's not there it does really hurt as a parent. You've got to come to terms with it, and we haven't come to terms. It's going to take a lot of years and heartbreaking times."

Robert is believed to have got into difficulty after he was caught by strong underwater currents.

Almost a year after his death, advice issued from Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service has echoed the dangers of open water swimming:

  • The weather may be hot, but the water can be icy cold and cold water shock can kill even the most competent of swimmers.

  • Do not swim in rivers, lakes or on unsupervised bodies of water where there could be a number of hidden dangers.

  • If you see someone in difficulty, do not enter the water yourself. Call 999 and ask for the fire service if you are inland, or the coastguard if you are by the sea.

  • If you get into difficulty, think: 'float to live'. Lean back like a starfish and use your arms and legs to stay afloat.

  • Anyone who has been drinking alcohol is urged to avoid going into the water.

Robert's parents said: "We don't want parents to go through the same thing that we've gone through.

"It hurts and we just want to keep other kids safe."

It comes after just this weekend (27 May 2022) a 15-year-old girl got into difficulty in the North Sea at Whitley Bay.

She is currently in a critical condition in hospital after being pulled ashore by members of the public.

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