Family speak of tragic ordeal

Thomas Barton, 15, who drowned in a reservoir at Yarrow Valley Country Park, Chorley
Thomas Barton, 15, who drowned in a reservoir at Yarrow Valley Country Park, Chorley

The family of a Chorley teenager who drowned in a reservoir have urged parents to talk to their children about the dangers of swimming in open water.

Thomas Barton, 15, lost his life at Birkacre Brow, part of the wider Yarrow Valley Park, in May this year.

He had been out with friends during the warm weather when tragedy struck and the popular teenager got into difficulties in the water. He was recovered from the reservoir after a massive search operation.

His dad Simon, together with mum Clare, of Tansley Avenue, Coppull, have vowed to try and warn others about the importance of keeping safe in the water after the tragedy.

They have already offered help and support to the family of 13-year-old Dylan Ramsay, who drowned at a quarry in Whittle-le-Woods last year. His mum Rebecca is spearheading the Doing it for Dylan campaign which is touring schools in Chorley and surrounding areas to warn about the dangers of swimming in open water.

Thomas’s dad Simon, speaking of the family’s ordeal, said: “We have good days and we have bad days. It is just a case of trying to get through one day at a time. One minute you can be ok and the next it’s like you have been hit with a tonne of bricks.

“It does help to talk about Thomas, and to warn others about the dangers. But it doesn’t bring him back.

“We just really don’t want anyone else to go through what we are.

“It’s something you have to live with for the rest of your life.

“We told Thomas not to go into the water but, kids being kids, they think they are invincible.

“With the weather being hot we wanted to remind people.”

He has encouraged parents to talk to their children, even if they think it might not happen to them.

He said: “When I heard about Dylan Ramsay I thought about how sad it was, but then you think it’s not going to happen to us. I suppose every other parents think that as well.

“If someone else could learn rather than by going through it themselves, then talking about this is worth it.

“I miss Thomas like crazy. I talk to him when I’m home, and I hope he can hear me.

“I just hope that someone else will learn.”

Simon also praised Thomas’s friends and many of his classmates at Holy Cross RC High School, who have supported each other through the ordeal.

He said: “Teenagers do seem to get a bit of bad press these days but with kids like this it’s heart warming how they have pulled together through this.”