Father of drowned Norfolk boy in water safety warning

The father of a young boy who drowned in a school holiday tragedy has raised hundreds of pounds for charities and good causes through adventurous abseils.

And Richard Laxen urged people to take extra care around water this summer, with this month marking four years since his nine-year-old son Sean, from Horsford, died when he slipped on rocks at Conwy Falls in the Welsh town of Betwys-y-Coed while on holiday.

Mr Laxen, who lives in Aylsham and works for Norfolk County Council, has raised thousands of pounds since Sean's tragic death for his son's former schools and clubs, the mountain rescue team which looked for him and for organisations which promote water safety.

This year, Mr Laxen took part in sponsored abseils down three landmarks in places where he, Sean and Sean's younger brother Scott had visited or had planned to visit.

The first was a 165ft ascent down the Forth Railway Bridge near Edinburgh, the second was down the 27ft Marquess of Anglesey column on the Isle of Angelsey and the third, closer to home, was down Southwold Lighthouse.

Mr Laxen said: 'My thoughts on what I had done were a mixture of a sense of achievement and pleasure, yet with a deep feeling of sadness at the reason why I had pushed myself to do them and what would my Sean think of me? I was and am sure he was looking down and saying 'Hey that's my Dad'.'

Mr Laxen also urged people to take extra care while around water this summer, which was why he wanted to raise money for the RNLI - with some of the cash going directly to the station at Wells-next-the-Sea, the first beach he ever visited with Sean.

Most Read

He said: 'These three abseils are organised by the RNLI to raise much needed funds to keep the lifeboats and lifeguards going for the year. I hope that in some small way I am able to raise the awareness of water safety again so that people, young and old, able or not able, can enjoy this summer near water safely.'

The rest of the money will be divided up to Sean's former schools Horsford Middle School and St Faith Primary School, along with Sidestrand Hall Special School, which Sean had been due to attend, plus Betws-Y-Coed Primary School.

The remainder will go to Aylsham Youth Club and Horsham and Horsford Youth Club, where many of Sean and his brother Scott's school friends go.

Last summer Mr Laxen took part in a sponsored hike along the Norfolk coast and the previous year he completed a parachute jump at Old Buckenham airfield to raise money in Sean's memory.

An inquest in 2008 heard how Sean, who was on holiday with his mother Linda and brother, 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 eventually discovered in a deep pool close to where he fell.

Coroner John Hughes described Sean's death as a 'terrible tragedy' and recorded it had been an accident.

The inquest heard improved safety measures were being put in place at the waterfall walk near Betws-y-Coed after it emerged there was a gap in the safety fence and a warning sign was on the ground and not conspicuous.

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.

• Have you been raising money in a loved one's memory? Call Evening News reporter David Freezer on 01603 772418 or email david.freezer@archant.co.uk