Charlie Pope: Father's canal safety plea after son's drowning

Charlie Pope Image copyright Family handout
Image caption Charlie Pope moved to Manchester from Northumberland to attend university in the city

The father of a student who died after falling in a canal has warned of the dangers of drinking to excess near water over Christmas.

Charlie Pope, 19, drowned in Manchester's Rochdale canal after going missing during a night out in 2018.

His father Nick said it was "madness" to see people ignoring new safety measures and crossing the canal using wooden lock gates.

He urged people to stay together while celebrating over the festive period.

Launching the Don't Drink and Drown campaign, Mr Pope said: "It's too late for Charlie but we want to help other families avoid what we've been through.

"The message I want to give to people who think 'stop telling us what to do, I'm alright' is that we were alright until it happened to Charlie."

More than 45 people have been rescued from Manchester's canals and rivers in the last three years, the city's fire service said.

Image caption Nick Pope has campaigned vigorously for better safety measures around canals

Charlie, of Ponteland in Northumberland, was a student at Manchester University when he went missing after becoming separated from friends.

Mr Pope implored people to "look after each other on a night out, particularly when near water".

Earlier this year, after a campaign led by the family, barriers were installed along a stretch of Rochdale canal with fencing directing people to use a footbridge.

Rescue equipment and new lighting have also been installed at Lock 89 and Lock 87, near Canal Street.

David Wilson, a station manager at Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service, said: "Manchester is a fantastic and vibrant city and we want everyone to enjoy their time here.

"On your way home after a festive night out, look out for your friends at the end of the night and find another route home away from water."

Laurence Hickin, from the drowning prevention charity Royal Life Saving Society UK, said: "It's a sad truth that the number of drownings increase in the winter period, more often than not because of intoxication".

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