Help charity stop river deaths in Norwich this Christmas

Norfolk Lowland Search and Rescue have bought a boat with a £5,000 grant from the EDP Norfolk and Lo

Norfolk Lowland Search and Rescue have bought a boat with a £5,000 grant from the EDP Norfolk and Lowestoft Flood Appeal. Grieg Roye, Paul Chamberlain and Michelle Richardson during a night training exercise. - Credit: Archant

Late night river patrols could be mounted through the centre of Norwich, to help keep festive party-goers safe over the Christmas period.

The Lady Julian Bridge at night. Picture: Denise Bradley

The Lady Julian Bridge at night. Picture: Denise Bradley - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2012

Volunteers from the charity Norfolk Lowland Search and Rescue (NORLSAR) plan to launch their four metre boat to cruise along the Wensum on evenings when the city is busy with revellers.

They are concerned about the risk of people falling into the river when out and being unable to get out of the water.

It follows a series of recent incidents in which people have had to be rescued from the river. There have, over the years, also been deaths of people who have fallen in on nights out.

In order to get the patrols on the water, Paul Chamberlain, vice chairman NORLSAR, said he needed the support of businesses and other organisations.

'This is about making Norwich a safe place to go out. If you go out and get drunk, you need to be looked after by your friends,' he said. 'But the research says males are more likely to fall into the river while drunk.

'If people do fall in, we want to be there rather than families identifying someone of Christmas Eve on the morgue slab.'

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Last year, a NORLSAR team went out on patrol on New Year's Eve. This year, they want to go out on two Fridays – December 11 and 18 – between 6pm to 1am. If more funding can be found, more nights could also be covered. They plan to monitor the area from the Ribs of Beef pub to Carrow Bridge, but need a financial boost of around £200 from local businesses or individuals to cover their costs.

'We went out on New Year's Eve last year, but we wanted to do it in the run up to Christmas this year, we just need the funding to make it happen,' Mr Chamberlain explained.

Around 400 people die every year from drowning as a result of an accident in or around water in the UK. To donate visit www.norlsar.org.uk.