‘I begged him not to swim there’ – mum
PAUL Lawson’s heartbroken mother told how she begged him not to go swimming.
Natalie Lawson, from Wardle, said she had tried to persuade Paul, who has a younger sister Charlotte, aged eight, not to go to the reservoir.
She said: “It was just a tragic accident. I begged him not to go. I told him waters like that were dangerous, but he wouldn’t listen.”
Natalie, 35, thanked the friends who tried to save him, saying: “They all tried their hardest to save him. He kept going back down and they kept trying to lift him up.
“I want to thank them so much for trying their best and for all they did for him.
“I have to say that I could not ask for a better group of friends for my son Paul.”
“God knows what they must be going through now.”
Natalie paid a touching tribute to her ‘footballmad’ son, who played for Hooley Bridge Celtic in Heywood and was studying a specialist football course at Hopwood Hall College.
She said: “He was the life and soul of the party - he always got everyone smiling.
“He had lots and lots of friends and he would always stick up for them if they were in trouble.
“His sister doted on him - he was her hero. He was a proper big brother, very protective of her and they were really close.
“He helped me through some bad times and was there for the good times. He was my backbone.
“We used have a lot of banter with each other. Sometimes I was his mum, sometimes I felt like his best friend. He would say ‘You’re my trendy young mum’ and said he was glad I was only 35 because we’d have lots of years together.
“You couldn’t have asked for a better son. He’ll always be my baby boy.”
Natalie said the amazing support from friends and family were helping her through her pain – but Paul’s death, she said, still doesn’t seem real.
“It’s not sunk in Natalie added.
“I keep expecting him to walk through the door from college.
“I know I’m in shock, and I know it will hit me when we say goodbye at the funeral. But right now it just doesn’t seem real.
“I don’t want it to be real. yet,” It’s like I’m living a nightmare.
You hear about things like this on the news and think ‘What must the parents must be thinking’ and now I’m in that situation, there’s just a void. I feel numb.
“How many more families are going to have to go through what I’m going through before kids stop swimming in reservoirs?”
Hopwood Hall College has announced they are to retire Paul’s number 28 football jersey in his honour.
A spokesman for the college said: “Paul was a great member of our second team and a fantastic personality off the pitch. You would truly be hard pressed to find someone at this academy who would have a bad word to say about him.”
Carole Fisher, headteacher at Paul’s former school Wardle Academy, also paid tribute to him. She said: “He was a much-loved young man with a happy and successful life ahead of him. He will be very much missed. Our thoughts are with his family.”
Emergency services at the scene of the tragedy and (inset) Paul’s mum Natalie Lawson