Be wary of the water

A heart-broken family of a teenager who drowned in the River Tyne are pleading with the public to stay safe this summer – on the one-year anniversary of his death.

Stella and Carl Hattersley tragically lost their 13-year-old son Robert on July 17th last year after he got into trouble in the water.

Robert was playing with friends by the River Tyne in Ovingham when he and a friend were swept under due to the current.

Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service (TWFRS) and Northumberland Fire and Rescue Service (NFRS) responded alongside blue light colleagues.

But tragically Robert did not survive and his dad Carl, 49, and mam Stella, 48, are still dealing with the grief 12 months on.

Today (Monday), on the anniversary of Robert’s passing, they want to remind young people able the dangers of the water.

Carl, a carer for wife Stella, said: “We want young people to understand what to do if they get in trouble.

“We know they hear it from parents and teachers but someone who has gone through this tragic loss it might help them understand that they should listen.

“The love and passion we have for this cause does come from tragedy but we don’t want any other parents to go through what we’ve been through.

“A year has passed since we lost Robert and we think about him every day. It hasn’t got any easier, and I don’t think it ever will.”

Today (Monday) senior figures in our emergency services from across the region are calling on the public to ensure they are aware of what to do in an emergency in the water.

Steve Thomas, Head of Prevention and Education from TWFRS, said “We work hard year round to educate our young people about the dangers they can face when they are out and about.

“We don’t do this to scare them, but to give them the information to spot dangers and, arm them with the tools they need to get themselves and others out of trouble if it happens.

“We know how tempting it can be to go for a dip, especially when the weather is nice, but often the risks don’t outweigh the benefits.

“Remember if you do get into trouble, lean back and spread your arms, and wait until the shock passes.

“Don’t fight the water, call 999 and if you’re inland ask for the Fire Service and if you are at the coast ask for the coastguard.”

Paul Conway, Head of Prevention at Northumberland Fire & Rescue Service said: “We’d like to take this opportunity to ask that young people don’t enter natural bodies of water and remain educated on the risks associated with taking a swim.

“There can be strong currents and debris beneath the surface that aren’t visible from the shore, and they can easily overpower even the strongest swimmer.

“If you see someone struggling in the water, don’t enter and remember this lifesaving advice, Call 999, ask for the coastguard or fire service and provide a specific location.

“Tell them to float on their back, Throw something to help them float. Keep yourself and your friends safe.”

For further information about water safety advice, and the #RespectTheWater campaign, visit

If you see anyone in distress then please immediately, dial 999 and don’t put yourself in danger by entering the water yourself.