A 12-year-old boy who died in a river after going to help two girls who were in difficulty has been hailed a hero.
Owen Jenkins – who was a talented runner and rugby player – has been described as a “friendly giant” and a “loving, kind, considerate and well-mannered lad”, who would do anything to help anyone.
Owen’s bravery was praised in parliament, with Commons speaker John Bercow saying he wanted to send his “deepest condolences” as he paid tribute to the youngster’s “very remarkable courage”.
His grandparents said the sports-mad youngster went into the River Trent at Beeston Weir, near Nottingham, to help two girls but then got into trouble himself.
A huge search was launched by the emergency services and hundreds of people from the close-knit community of Beeston Rylands after Owen went missing in the river a few hundred yards from his home on Monday evening.
But Nottinghamshire Police said a body was recovered at 10pm.
Liz Ryan, Owen’s great aunt, said he was a “loving, kind, considerate and well mannered lad”.
She said: “We don’t know the full story but all we know is that he is a hero,” she told the Press Association.
“He didn’t think of himself.”
Ms Ryan said Owen’s mother Nicola and father Gary were devastated by his death, adding that it has been “horrendous” for the family, who joined the desperate search.
“The saddest part was we were told we all had to go because the light was going, the police said they had to just put the helicopters up with the infrared,” Ms Ryan said.
“Then in the next breath he came and said they had found him, and he wasn’t far.
“It was just seeing that man in the yellow coat and him saying ‘We have found him’, and Nicola said ‘Is he dead?’ and he just said ‘Yeah’.
“It hit home then. It was horrible.”
Owen’s grandmother, Lynda Fletcher confirmed that Owen went into the water to help two girls.
She said: “He would have been on the front row for anybody.
“Everybody loved him because he was so nice. They loved him because he was so kind and polite.”
She said: “He was like a giraffe, he was nearly 6ft tall. He was just a friendly giant.”
Mrs Fletcher was speaking outside the nearby Rylands Methodist Church where a book of condolence has been opened for Owen and candles lit.
Her husband, John, said his grandson had only just broken the Chilwell School record for the 200m, which had stood since 1981.
He choked back tears as he said: “I taught him how to go and help people.”
Mr and Mrs Fletcher said Owen’s father spent the whole night sitting by the weir near the spot where the tragedy happened.
They said they hoped safety measures would be put in place at the scene to stop anything like that happening again.