I took my dog for a morning walk along the Thames from Gossmore earlier this week. It was glorious – the sun was warm, the air was fresh, and the river looked absolutely stunning.
As we strolled towards the stretch of river at the foot of the rugby club pitches, I stopped to take some photos. The water looked almost tropical, especially at the little miniature beaches.
This must have been how it looked to 14-year-old Kyrece Francis and his friends that day: calm, cool water drenched in sunshine and framed by trees, the huge riverside mansions along the opposite bank and waterlillies bobbing around. A lone paddleboarder glided past at one point – he couldn’t have looked more serene.
But behind the beauty, and under the surface, this river is deadly. Now, exactly five years after Kyrece drowned at this very stretch on 22 July 2014, the bright red lifesaving units that bear his name are a wonderful sight, and a credit to his family and friends.
Please educate your children about the hidden dangers of river swimming, even when it looks this gorgeous. And get them water survival lessons!
So, what have these heroes achieved in Kyrece’s name?
Kyrece’s Legacy is now a registered charity. It has located a total of 27 lifesaving devices along the River Thames between Temple Lock in Marlow and Cookham Reach Sailing Club, Cookham.
The devices contain the latest torpedo style b’line devices. The lifesaving units have been installed with help from Wycombe District Council (on council owned riverside land), private land owners and local societies such as The River Thames Society, Marlow Angling Club and the Little Marlow Lakes Country Park Community Partnership, who have also liaised with The Environmental Agency and other bodies on behalf of the charity.
The Little Marlow Lakes Country Park Community Partnership was instrumental in gaining permission to site the latest phase of water safety units along the public fishing stretch of the Thames within the Country Park to the east of Marlow. This stretch of riverbank is owned by the Environment Agency and is opposite Longridge Outdoor Activity Centre. These units were installed on Sunday 30th June 2019 by Mike Overall and Richard Boas from the Country Park Partnership, and some of the Kyrece’s Legacy team, Tracy Chamberlain, George Chamberlain, Olivia Chivers and Paul Chivers.
Wise Up To Water, and more
You may remember in June MyMarlow posted about Drowning Prevention Week, and Kyrece’s Legacy’s summer initiative ‘Wise up to Water’, in partnership with Places for People at Wycombe Leisure Centre. Water safety and personal survival lessons were provided FREE OF CHARGE to 55 young people, ranging from 7 to 14 years of age, delivered by qualified swimming instructor Sheri Lampkin.
This offer is ongoing and the charity and centre will continue to give this training free of charge – please get in touch for details.
In addition to ‘Wise up to Water’ in the pool, Longridge Outdoor Activity Centre are working closely with Kyrece’s Legacy and are looking to provide water safety, personal survival and rescue training, from their expert team, lead by Centre Manager Suzie Skehill, actually in the river!
In November 2017 Kyrece’s Legacy, in a joint venture with Tesco Loudwater and Community Champion Claire Dicker, donated funds to Loudwater Primary School to help with renovations to the school swimming pool.
We are so grateful to the team at Kyrece’s Legacy, who have worked tirelessly for the last five years to increase our safety all the way along the River Thames at Marlow and beyond.
If you want to get involved or find out more, please CLICK HERE TO EMAIL.