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Mother's heartbreak Cork mum says 'grief has now become our friend' following son's tragic drowning

"You never expect to go on holidays with your family and come back minus a child"

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Amanda Cambridge and her son Avery

Amanda Cambridge and her son Avery

Amanda Cambridge and her son Avery

A Cork mother has told how “grief has now become our friend” following the drowning death of her three-year-old son. 

Speaking as a new water safety campaign has been launched, Amanda Cambridge said their world was “turned upside down” after Avery drowned in a swimming pool in Spain in 2019.

Amanda who is working with Water Safety Ireland on its new ‘Hold Hands’ programme for pre-schools, creches and early learning centres, described Avery as “bright and curious with infectious smile”.

“We went to Spain on a family holiday and on August 12, while I was cleaning the ground floor apartment, he walked out the door, down to the pool and drowned,” she told Newstalk Breakfast.

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Tragic Avery James Greene

Tragic Avery James Greene

Tragic Avery James Greene

“That is where our world was turned upside down. It was very unexpected. You know, you never expect to go on holidays with your family and come back minus a child.

“You always think, ‘oh God this happens to other people,’ you know, ‘this happens in hot countries’ but it can happen to anyone and it can happen anywhere so that is how this came about. That is how Hold Hands came to life.

“In the meantime, I think two more children had died besides Avery and we just kind of sat and thought, what can we do?” she said.

“This can’t happen, these children are our future. A friend of mine had contact with Irish Water Safety Ireland and we got in contact with them and they were delighted to come on-board.”

She said Hold Hands is about teaching children that water can be great fun but only if you stay safe.

“We want to make it entertaining for them to teach them that water can be great sport, you can have great fun and swimming is great exercise but at the end of the day, it is all about being safe, holding an adult’s hand and knowing that you can only go so far,” she said.

“Drowning doesn’t just happen in pools, it just doesn’t happen on holidays – it happens in your home, it happens in a park, it happens on farms and it only takes 30 seconds for a child to drown and that is the hardest part.”

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She said she has been taking things one day at a time and keeping Avery in her heart.

"I constantly tell people grief has now become our friend,” she said. “He was a big part of our life.

“His toys are still here, his clothes are still here, his pictures are still here so we are reminded every day that he was here but we are also reminded every day that he is gone and that he was taken so suddenly.

“I suppose we just take one day at a time and just constantly remembering him and talking about him and this is a lovely tribute to him.”

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