Bathers told not to swim alone at Compton Lock

Compton Lock, near the village of Shawford

Compton Lock, near the village of Shawford

First published in News

PARISH councillors have been forced to take action at a lock where a nine-year-old nearly drowned after a girl reported she too thought she “was going to die”.

Compton and Shawford Parish councillors have been working with neighbouring Twyford Parish Council at Compton Lock after a St Peter’s RC school boy became entangled in the water.

Joe Chilcott was saved after a passer-by saw he couldn’t hold himself out of the water on Sunday (July 20) because the rope had caught around his ankle.

Now another student has stepped forward saying she too nearly died after the rope got caught under her neck.

Ella Wharton, 16, from Nursling, starts Barton Peveril College in September.

She said: “The rope is attached to the little bridge which people put a stick on and you can swing from it in the water. My friend went before me and he went through ok.

“The stick was floating in the current, attached to the bridge, and I went through, on my back, and was slightly under when the stick got caught under my neck so the rope was dragging me.

One of my friends, Ben, jumped in and I managed to get free but I couldn’t breathe.

“I was only stuck for about 10 seconds but I thought I was going to die then and there. Although I got it off before my friend helped me, if no one was there and the current was stronger I wouldn’t have been able to pull it off.

“If a little kid jumped in they wouldn’t be able to do that. You have to be a strong swimmer or you wouldn’t be able to get out.”

Chairman of Compton and Shawford Parish Council, Adrian Walmsley, said: “We were obviously very concerned to hear about the incident which [was] reported in the Chronicle.

“We're in close contact with the city council and the county council on this matter, and also with Twyford Parish Council because the lock itself straddles the border between our two parishes.

As soon as we became aware of Sunday's incident we started discussions with Winchester City Council, Hampshire County Council and Twyford Parish Council.

“We've spoken to Russell Robson of the Environment Agency, who encouraged us to quote his safety recommendations on our website.

“Both of these recent incidents highlight the importance - for bathers of all ages - of not going swimming alone.”

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