Don't be tempted to take a dip in rivers, lakes or canals, even when the weather is sweltering - that's the message from firefighters this Drowning Prevention Week, as we remember the tragic victims who have lost their lives.

Even good swimmers can be caught out by hidden dangers in the water, such as fast currents, soft mud, weeds, rubbish, deep holes or freezing cold temperatures - potentially putting them in fatal danger. 

Statistics from the National Water Safety Forum have revealed that two people died in the water in Buckinghamshire in 2021, and two in neighbouring Berkshire. 

This Drowning Prevention Week, which runs from June 18 to June 25, we remember some of those who have sadly lost their lives in the River Thames in our area.

Anwaar Ali Ahmed

The 18-year-old's body was found in the Thames in Medmenham on July 3, 2009, just one day after his birthday, by search and rescue teams. 

The Harrow teenager had been swimming with friends in a stretch of river around 40m to 50m wide and the water was 2.5m deep where he was found.

Recording a verdict of accidental death, coroner Richard Hulett said: “When there is nice and sunny weather and people feel in good spirits they are often tempted to jump into a river.

“But swimming across the River Thames is very difficult – it may not look very far across from the river bank, but when people try to swim across a river, they often pay the price.”

Chris Russell

Bourne End man Chris, 39, tragically drowned in the Thames while making his way back from The Bounty pub in Cock Marsh with his dog Monty on September 27, 2009. 

His body was found the next day by the pub's landlord who had gone out to search for him when Monty was found on his own. 

Kyrece Francis 

Talented 13-year-old footballer Kyrece, who went to Great Marlow School, died while swimming in the Marlow stretch of the Thames on July 22, 2014 - the first day of the summer holidays and less than a month before his 14th birthday. 

Kyrece was described as a "beautiful soul with a fun and infectious personality". 

Friends who were with Kyrece when the tragedy happened said he had got into difficulty while trying to swim to an island. 

Two friends tried in vain to bring him back to the river bank but were unable to hold onto him. 

Kyrece's friends and loved ones have raised thousands of pounds through Kyrece's Legacy, a water safety charity which was founded following the tragedy.

The charity has been instrumental in river safety following Kyrece’s death as there are now a number of lifesaving pieces of equipment along the River Thames between Marlow’s Temple Lock and Cookham Reach Sailing Club.

All the rescue equipment contains a torpedo style b’line device, which is aimed to help those struggling in the water in a matter of moments.

Andrew Bonner-Walter

Boat owner Andrew, 54, lived in Bourne End Marina but was tragically found trapped in some railings and partially submerged in the river just before midnight on April 21, 2017. 

Dr Peter Johnson, who carried out the post-mortem on Andrew's body, said it was “likely alcohol was a factor in his falling into the water and being unable to get himself out again”. 

Hannah Gibbs 

The body of Hannah Gibbs, a mother-of-two, was found in the water by a boat owner at Harleyford Marina in Marlow at around 4pm on November 1, 2019, after going missing on October 13. 

An inquest into her death at Buckinghamshire coroner’s court in Beaconsfield on August 25, 2020, heard that the 37-year-old had struggled with alcohol addiction and depression, but there was no proof she had decided to take her own life.

The evening she disappeared, Hannah had told her mum she was popping out for a couple of hours and that she loved her.

Eyad Al Ryabi and Mohammed Al Safadi

Eyad Al Ryabi, a father-of-five, had moved to the UK from Syria to try and make a better life for his family, but he died after jumping into the Thames to rescue his friend Mohammed, who had got into trouble while swimming in Lulle Brook, Cookham, on June 23, 2020. 

Eyad, 31, had been living in Uxbridge, West London, but had been with a group of friends at Lulle Brook for a day out in the good weather, his cousin told the PA news agency. 

His body was found on June 24. 

Mohammed, 37, the friend he had been trying to help after he got into difficulty, was rushed to Wexham Park Hospital in a serious condition but he tragically died on June 25. 

The tragedy hit as temperatures reached around 30C during a heatwave.

Jordan Veira 

Maidenhead teenager Jordan died after slipping under the water in Bourne End on one of the hottest days of 2021

Police were alerted just before 3pm on May 31 that Jordan, 15, had got into trouble. 

Officers were at the scene by 3.15pm and a joint emergency services meeting was held at 3.40pm to come up with a plan of action.

Sergeant Steven Westbrook said the Bucks Fire and Rescue service took charge of the operation and set about putting a number of boats into the water within 20 minutes of the 999 call.

After 90 minutes of searching, there was a 'joint reluctance' to make the call to switch from a rescue operation to a recovery operation, Sgt Westbrook said. 

Jordan's body was found just after 3am on June 1, 2021. 

Jordan was a keen rugby player and was described by his devastated mum as a "fun-loving" teenager who liked sushi, pizza, fried chicken and cereal, enjoyed playing sports and supported Arsenal, and ‘dreamt of marriage and having kids’. 

She said: "He was developing into a lively young man.

"He was full of life and he loved his life. He loved his friends and his family very much.

"We all miss him terribly."

See for water safety advice.