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19th Dec 2022

Fundraiser for four ‘princes’ who died in freezing Solihull lake surpasses £75k

Steve Hopkins

‘Our hearts are broken for the four Little Princes’

A fundraising page for four “princes” who died in a freezing lake raised more than £10,000 in a matter of hours, and on Monday afternoon was nudging £75k.

Brothers Samuel and Finlay Butler, their cousin Thomas Stewart, and a fourth boy, Jack Johnson, were “playing” when they fell into Babbs Mill Lake, in Solihull, on 11 December, an inquest has been told.

The children were all in cardiac arrest when rescue teams pulled them out of the water and emergency services rushed them to hospital.

Jack, 10 and Thomas, 11, died later that day, while Finlay died the following day. Samuel, six, was taken to hospital in a critical condition, but died on 14 December.

Friends have the families involved have since set up a Gofundme page to raise funds for the grieving families of the ‘Babbs Mill Princes’.

Within 16 hours £10,000 was raised and as of Monday afternoon £74,242 had been donated.

Organiser Sharon Doyle said the boys had fallen through the ice after “forgetting the dangers taught by their parents” before young Jack heroically tried to save them.

She wrote: “Our hearts are broken for the four Little Princes.

“On Sunday, 11th December 2022, a group of children played in a local park near an open lake.

“Being children and adventurous, they forgot the dangers taught by their parents and risked going onto the icy lake.

“Four boys fell through the ice and into the lake. The frantic father of one of the lads and a dog walker entered the lake to try and help the boys.

“The emergency and rescue services arrived promptly and began the rescue.

“Sadly, Jack (aged 10) and a young boy (aged 11) lost their lives on Sunday, 11th December 2022.

“Another young boy (aged 8) passed away in the early hours of the morning on Monday, 12th December 2022

“The younger brother of the 8-year-old, aged 6, remained in critical condition until Wednesday, 14th December 2022, when sadly, he gave up his fight and gained his wings.

“Jack Johnson sadly passed away after falling in, bravely trying to save the other children.”

Doyle added that no parents expects to lose “their children so young, and sadly, no amount of money would ever place them back in our arms, but with our help, we can hopefully ease the worry of the financial costs they will need to meet”.

“This tragedy is heartbreaking, has brought a community together, and has affected people’s hearts worldwide. “Condolences go out to all three families and their relatives.”

West Midlands Police confirmed over the weekend that the search for any other people in the lake had been called off following the six-year-old’s death.

A force spokesperson said: “The searches have been completed and the scene of the incident at the lake will be lifted this evening.”

On Sunday, Aston Villa footballers Tyrone Mings and John McGinn laid a wreath on behalf of the club the day after Birmingham City manager John Eustace.

Their tributes joined a mountain of of floral bouquets, soft toys, teddy bears and balloons at the foot of a tree which has become a shrine for the grieving community.

Senior Coroner for Birmingham and Solihull Louise Hunt described the circumstances surrounding the boys’ deaths as a “devastating tragedy”, as she opened and adjourned the four inquests on Monday, Sky News reported.

A full inquest is due to be heard in July, with Ms Hunt saying the hearing will look at the “circumstances leading to the deaths and the cause of death.”

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