Kent

Lucas Dobson's river death prompts life jacket school loan plan

Lucas Dobson Image copyright Chloee Martin
Image caption Lucas Dobson fell into the River Stour in Sandwich on 17 August

The family of a six-year-old boy who drowned in a river has proposed a scheme for life jackets to be made available for loan to school children.

Lucas Dobson slipped into the River Stour in Sandwich while out fishing with his family on 17 August. His body was found four days later.

His father Nathan wants local schools to stock life jackets that could then be loaned out "like library books".

He added a deal had already been struck with a supplier.

Image copyright Gareth Fuller / PA
Image caption Search teams spent four days looking for Lucas

Mr Dobson said his son's chance of survival would have been better if he was wearing a life jacket at the time he fell into the river.

"He didn't come back up. I couldn't save him," he said.

"If he had fallen in with a life jacket he might have only gone in for a second."

Peter Faulding, chief executive of Specialist Group International (SGI), was involved in the search for Lucas.

He is donating 15 life jackets, worth £20 each, to be made available to local schools.

The aim is for them to be booked out by children who might need them for personal outings with family and friends, in the evenings or at weekends.

Image caption Nathan Dobson is campaigning for schools to have life jackets available to children

"It was a very difficult search for Lucas," Mr Faulding said, adding: "It was muddy and there were high currents."

He added SGI deals with an average of 10 drownings each year.

Mr Faulding is backing Mr Dobson's campaign and helped him arrange a deal with Baltic Life Jackets to supply the buoyancy aids.

Although it has not yet been decided which schools will get the jackets, both Mr Faulding and Mr Dobson plan to deliver the them personally along with a talk about the hidden dangers of rivers.

They also want water safety to be part of the curriculum.

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