Canoe fundraiser on the River Bure in memory of tragic youngster

The father and brother of a schoolboy who drowned five years ago have raised �1,000 in memory of their lost loved one.

Sean Laxen, nine, from Horsford, died in August 2007 after he fell into water after slipping on rocks at Conwy Falls in the Welsh town of Betwys-y-Coed.

Since Sean's death, his father Richard, who lives in Aylsham and works for Norfolk County Council, has raised thousands of pounds in his son's memory with annual 'quests'.

They have included sponsored parachute jumps, abseils and walks, but this year Sean's brother Scott, 13, joined him for a fundraising 24.5km canoe trip on the River Bure between Aylsham and Wroxham.

Travelling courtesy of a Canadian canoe provided by The Canoe Man in Wroxham, the pair completed their fundraising journey in eight hours.

Mr Laxen said they had encountered inquisitive cows, swans and a section under a footbridge where they had to lay on their backs and pull themselves through.

Eight hundred pounds of the money raised has been donated to a project for children at the Bure Valley Railway at Aylsham to buy and install a slide on the bank outside the cafe.

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That spot has special significance for Mr Laxen and he said it had been a 'moving experience' to see his son hand over the cheque to the directors of the Bure Valley Railway.

He said: 'The reason the Bure Valley Railway was picked for this donation was that when both Sean and Scott stayed with me in Aylsham we would always cycle or walk down to the station to see or travel on the trains, invariably having our picnic lunch.

'This was taken on the benches outside the Whistle Stop cafe and both of them would climb up the bank and slide or run down, laughing and giggling as they did it.

'Since losing Sean we have continued to visit the station and seeing children still doing this made us think of a slide. After approaching the railway we were told that it was something they had thought about, but never had the spare money to consider, so we both thought we shall raise some money for it.

'Now that we have, the railway have said that we can be involved in the sourcing and installation of the slide. We have ideas to make it happen, which would also involve some of both Sean and Scott's friends from the 1st Aylsham Scouts in the process.

'Once this is done, I could not think of a better way of remembering Sean as he was always smiling and his giggle was infectious. To sit outside the Whistle Stop cafe in future listening to children doing the same will be the closest we could get to having him back with us.'

The remaining money will be shared between Sean's former schools, Horsford Middle School and St Faiths Primary School, along with Betws-y-Coed Primary Schools and Sidestrand Hall Special School.

An inquest in 2008 heard how Sean, who was on holiday with his mother Linda and Scott, had slipped on rocks at the water's edge and drowned. Rescuers from the Ogwen Valley Mountain Rescue Team spent 27 hours looking for Sean before he was discovered in a deep pool close to where he fell. Coroner John Hughes described Sean's death as a 'terrible tragedy' and recorded that it had been an accident.

Mr Laxen has previously helped raise hundreds of pounds for the Ogwen Valley Mountain Rescue Team while a memorial bench has been installed close to where Sean died.

Are you taking part in a special event in tribute to someone? Call Emma Knights on 01603 772428 or email