Tributes paid after four children lose their lives in West Midland lake tragedy

Tributes have been paid to the four children who tragically lost their lives after falling into a freezing lake in the West Midlands.

Brothers Finlay (8) and Samuel Butler (6), their cousin Thomas Stewart (11) and ten-year-old Jack Johnson fell through ice as they were playing. All four boys were rushed to hospital after being pulled from the icy lake in Kingshurst on Sunday 11th December.

All four boys were rushed to hospital after being pulled from the icy Babbs Mill Lake in Kingshurst on Sunday (December 11) afternoon. But Finlay and Thomas died a short time afterwards, with Jack also dying on Sunday. Young Samuel fought for his life but sadly died on Wednesday 14th December 14, with their families paying tribute to their ‘beautiful boys’.

Cieran Flaherty, headteacher at St Anthony’s Catholic Primary School, in Fordbridge Road described Jack Johnson as a ‘ray of sunshine who ‘never failed to make us all smile’.

“Jack was a loving, bubbly pupil with a heart of gold. Someone who would always check in on others and make sure they were doing OK,” he told MSN News.

“He was a joy to teach and a child who we are all so very proud of. A ray of sunshine who would never fail to make us all smile. We can only say thank you to him for brightening up our lives.

“The school family remains in a state of shock at this tragic news. The school is a small close-knit family and we have a strong community that in times of adversity always pulls together.”

He continued: “Our motto centred around our faith is actions speak louder than words and we can all be assured that our actions and prayers will centre on supporting Jack’s family, his classmates and the whole community. We are working with a range of agencies and have had expert advice on how best to support our staff and children.

“On Tuesday we welcomed back all our children by holding collective worship in each class and a special service of remembrance for Jack’s classmates. We thank everyone for their heartfelt messages of support locally and from around the world. Please keep our community in your prayers.”

The Most Reverend Bernard Longley, Archbishop of Birmingham, also paid tribute in statement:

“My heart goes out to all those affected by this tragedy and on behalf of the Catholic Archdiocese of Birmingham I offer my deepest condolences to those who have lost loved ones,” said Archbishop Longley.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the Kingshurst community at this deeply distressing time.

“What has happened is truly devastating and hard to comprehend.

“The Catholic community is here to support and comfort all those affected. Prayers are being said at our churches and should anyone wish to take some time for quiet prayer and reflection St Anthony’s Catholic Church at Kingshurst will be open and all are welcome.”

West Midlands Police also issued a tribute on behalf of the family of Thomas, Finley and Samuel.

It reads: “As a family we are devastated at the loss of our beautiful boys Tom, Fin and Sam in such tragic circumstances.

“We would like to thank the emergency services for all they did in rescuing the boys and to the community for their support, it has been overwhelming.

“We would like to pass on our condolences to Jack’s family at this very sad time, and ask for privacy from the media to begin to grieve.”