'All it takes is 30 seconds for a child to drown': Grieving Cork mum’s quest to spare families similar suffering

Amanda Cambridge said she still feels the physical pain that came with the loss of her three-year-old son Avery Green, who drowned in a pool in Alicante after wandering away from his family back in 2019.
'All it takes is 30 seconds for a child to drown': Grieving Cork mum’s quest to spare families similar suffering

Amanda Cambridge, whose young son Avery Greene, tragically drowned on a family holiday in 2019.

AN inspiring Cork mum, whose toddler son died in a tragic drowning accident while on a family holiday, is continuing in her quest to spare other families the same agonising grief and suffering.

Amanda Cambridge said she still feels the physical pain that came with the loss of her three-year-old son Avery Greene, who drowned in a pool in Alicante after wandering away from his family back in 2019.

The mum had been frantically searching for her son before realising he had drowned.

“Somebody nearby said that a baby had been found in a pool,” she said. “Every bone in my body knew that it was Avery. 

"Someone had been doing CPR on him but we didn’t have the outcome we wanted and Avery passed away.”

Rather than let the pain consume her, Ms Cambridge has been using the horrific experience to help others.

She has been working with Water Safety Ireland on its Hold Hands programme for pre-schools and creches, which has been designed with the aim of preventing more children like Avery from drowning. The programme was developed in a toddler-friendly way that encourages young kids to engage with the issue of water safety.

The motivation of the project is to reiterate the importance of holding an adult’s hand near the water.

Ms Cambridge emphasised the importance of striking a balance by encouraging children to respect the water without fearing it.

The family took a similar approach with daughters Lucia, 11, and nine-year-old Robyn.

“I haven’t been in the water since 2019 because of the fear I developed after Avery died. I did try once but even the splashing and the noise were overwhelming,” she said.

“I didn’t want to pass that fear on to my children so it was important for us that they got back in the water as soon as possible.”

She recalled the day her children’s paternal grandmother took them swimming after Avery died.

“This was a family complex but when we got back to the apartment, not one person had gotten into the pool. It was surrounded by candles and teddy tears. The girls’ grandmother took them swimming the day after because she didn’t want them to be afraid. We didn’t want other people to be afraid either.

“It was only when everyone saw the girls swimming that they started to get in the pool again. I am so proud of the girls. They have been so amazing despite everything they have gone through. Because of them, I am able to laugh and smile again.”

She reminded parents that drowning does not discriminate.

“One minute Avery was there and the next he was gone,” she said. “This can happen to anyone. 

"There have been so many drownings since Avery died. It’s not just children who drown. The water doesn’t choose. Whether you are a child, teenager, or older person there is always a risk of drowning.

“I returned home on a plane from our holidays with two children next to me and one under me in the holdall. However, drowning can happen anywhere whether that’s on a beach, or in a paddling pool, or bath. All it takes is 30 seconds for a child to drown; drowning is silent.”

She stressed that the smallest measures, such as explaining to children how armbands and lifejackets work, could mean the difference between life and death.

“The sad thing was that Avery wore armbands almost 24/7. He loved them so much but didn’t understand that without them he would sink.”

Ms Cambridge paid tribute to Irish Water Safety Ireland and the Kevin Bell Repatriation Trust.

“We had to stay there for 10 days to have Avery’s body repatriated. I thought I would be able to bundle him up and bring him home but there was so much outside of that which needed to be done. The Kevin Repatriation Trust was incredible in how they helped us.”

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