Family pays loving tribute to son Daniel

Daniel with his brother Jack and father Gabriel at Alton Towers in April 2011
Daniel with his brother Jack and father Gabriel at Alton Towers in April 2011

The family of a 15-year-old boy who drowned after swimming in the River Nene have paid tribute to the “sensitive and thoughtful” teenager.

Daniel McCullagh, from Woodford, died on Tuesday, July 24, after struggling in river between Woodford and Denford.

In an emotional statement Daniel’s family said he loved to make people laugh.

Speaking on behalf of the family, his father Gabriel McCullagh said: “Daniel was also very sensitive and thoughtful with a lovely smile; he was very good at cheering you up when you were down. He Daniel played the clown and was known for his impressions of characters from films such as King Julien XIII from Madagascar.

“He was a typical 15-year-old, always talking and telling stories. He spent a lot of time with his friends who meant so much to him, some of whom he has known since he was four-years-old.

“Every day after school Daniel would come home, usually with some friends, empty the fridge and run off to someone else’s house and meet more friends.

“His life was full of experiences and he tried his hand at many things, from karate, football, boxing, army and sea cadets, to thrill rides at the pleasure beach at Yarmouth. He had so much potential and we are so sad that he will not be here to fulfil this.

“We would like to thank those people who were at the scene and tried hard to save Daniel. Daniel’s loss has hit us all hard: family, friends and the local community.

“The comments from Daniel’s friends on Facebook have been a huge comfort to us all – there are a lot of memories of Daniel and the page is a celebration of his life.

“We want to say a special thank you to everybody who has sent us their condolences and those who have provided us with help and support in the past week. The community spirit has been wonderful and is much appreciated.”

Recounting some of their favourite treasured memories of Daniel, his family spoke of the time he was selected to be a mascot for Ipswich Town and when they went on holiday to Ireland when Daniel was about 12.

They also shared memories of Daniel’s annual trips to Cromer with his brother Jack, nine, and his father to go crabbing on the pier, and how he and Jack would play football and badminton together in the garden – and often end up just laughing together.

The family’s tribute comes after another tragedy in the county’s waterways.

Two-year-old ‘Giovani’, whose full name is Jehovah Pembele, went missing from his home in Far Cotton, Northampton, on Saturday, July 28, and was found in the nearby canal. He was taken to Northampton General Hospital and moved to Glenfield Hospital in Leicester, where further attempts to resuscitate him were made, but he was pronounced dead at 3.25am on Sunday, July 29.

Half of all lifebelts are missing from river