Safety victory at site of canal death

Wendy and Kevin Cartwright with one of the signs that have been erected near to the canal at Talbot Road, Swinton. Picture: Malcolm Billingham
Wendy and Kevin Cartwright with one of the signs that have been erected near to the canal at Talbot Road, Swinton. Picture: Malcolm Billingham

THE family of a Mexborough schoolboy who drowned in a canal a year ago have finally won their battle to have warning signs placed at the scene.

Matthew Cartwright, eight, of Windhill Terrace, drowned after falling into the South Yorkshire Navigation Canal at Talbot Road, Swinton, in August last year.

Ever since the tragedy, his grandparents Wendy and Kevin, have been calling for better safety measures at the scene and were backed by a 1000 name petition from residents.

They marked the first anniversary of his death last week by setting off fireworks and also spoke of their relief that signs stating “Caution: Canal Beyond This Point” have finally been installed at the site by the Canal and River Trust.

The move came after numerous meetings between the Cartwright family and waterways bosses to decide how best to improve safety at the site.

But Mrs Cartwright, 57, of Elder Close, Conisbrough, said it was a hollow victory as the sign posts should have been up years ago.

She said: “I am glad that the signs are up because if it prevents another tragedy then it will have been worth it.

“I think it will act as a deterrent to anyone thinking about going near the canal’s edge.

“I just wish they had been up for longer because Matthew would have read them and not have gone near the water’s edge.”

Matthew fell into the canal while out picking blackberries with his cousin.

A passer-by, Reeza Abdollaza, heard screams of help and jumped in but could not save him.

Emergency services arrived and pulled Matthew out but he died from the effects of drowning.

Mr Abdollaza was later given a commendation award for his bravery by emergency services.

In addition to the warning signs, a number of other safety measures have been introduced at the site.

This includes the planting of bushes to act as a barrier to stop people gaining access.

Matthew’s family also hope to plant a tree and place a memorial stone at the site.

A spokesman for the Canal and River Trust said: “We’ve made it very clear that the site has always been compliant with our edge protection policy but we have been pleased to accommodate some additional measures that have been requested by Matthew’s family.

“We erected signage on site last week following input from Matthew’s family on their wording and location.

“We fully support the plans of Matthew’s family to plant a dwarf willow tree at the site and place a memorial stone there as a fitting and lasting tribute to Matthew.”