Life of Rony John celebrated at memorial event in Huntingdon

Memorial celebration to remember Huntingdon student Rony John, with members of the Huntingdon Indian

Memorial celebration to remember Huntingdon student Rony John, with members of the Huntingdon Indian Alliance, and (seated l-r) Councillor Patrick Kadewere, and father Roy Thomas, - Credit: Archant

A Memorial Day aimed at celebrating the life of Rony John – who drowned in the River Great Ouse last summer – and raising awareness about water safety was held at St Peter’s School in Huntingdon on Sunday.

The multi-agency event included a cricket match between the school and Huntingdon and District Cricket Club, Rony’s former club, and fire-fighters from Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service handed out water safety educational material in support of their #RememberRony campaign.

Former St Peter’s pupil Rony, who was not a strong swimmer, got into trouble when he jumped into the river to play with friends. The 15-year-old, of Tomlinson Court in Huntingdon, died on July 24 last year, on the first day of the summer holidays.

Patrick Kadewere, district councillor for Huntingdon North, who has been supporting Rony’s family and was instrumental in the campaign for new warning signs at the riverside, said Sunday’s event was impressive.

“It was a well organised memorial event to remind everyone about the late Rony John and raise awareness to our young people, including their parents, about the danger on the rivers,” he said.

Before the event at St Peter’s, The Huntingdon Alliance for Indians unveiled a memorial bench, which has a plague with Rony’s name on it, on the riverside at Hartford, close to the spot where the teenager met his death.

Cllr Kadewere added: “This will allow us to remember Rony for ever and also raise awareness so that we don’t see the same tragedy in Huntingdon again.”

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Watch commander Ed Miller, from Huntingdon Black Watch, who attended the event with a crew and a fire engine, said: “It was heart-warming to see lots of Rony’s family and friends there.

“The #RememberRony campaign to educate young people about water safety is of huge importance to the fire service and we really appreciated the school allowing us to attend this memorial event and take the opportunity to speak to those who had been most affected by the death of Rony John. I personally spoke with Roy, Rony’s father, who was very appreciative of our attendance. We just hope that by others remembering Rony, and learning about the hazards of Cambridgeshire’s waterways, that we can prevent another tragedy.”

Mark Cuthbert, from St Peter’s School, said: “It was great day and we would like to thank everyone who was involved. The day kicked off with the presentation of the memorial bench by the riverside and the Memorial Day itself welcomed a good turnout, bringing together Rony’s school, cricket club and the local community. The cricket match was played in great spirits – despite the cloud and drizzle – and ended with Huntingdon CC winning by 59 runs. The fire service were present to raise awareness of their water safety campaign and sales of special #RememberRony wristbands have made about £220. There are still some bands to be sold and all proceeds will go towards a memorial at St Peter’s School.”