A teenager tragically died while swimming with friends.
William James Stringer was at Franklins Recreation Ground near Mill Lane in Biggleswade with a group of friends on Friday evening (August 23).
He went for a swim in the adjacent River Ivel and failed to resurface.
William, who was 15 years old, lived in Lindsell Crescent in Biggleswade.
Rob Watson, headteacher at Stratton Upper School in Biggleswade, described him as “an exceptionally warm and friendly young man.”
He said: “We are all shocked and saddened by the tragic events of last weekend; both staff and students.
“William was known within staff circles for his very mature attitude beyond his years. He was working very hard at school.
“He had an absolute passion for cars and his ambition was to be a mechanic so he was specialising in science and technology in his GCSEs.
“Our thoughts at the moment are very much with his family and his many friends and we will be offering support to students when they come back to school.”
William, who was about to enter Year 11, had been doing very well at school and won a school prize in June for his work in resistant materials.
A close friend, Danni Anderson, was with William and their group of friends on Friday and phoned the emergency services.
She said: “Another friend wanted to go for a swim in the river. He jumped in first and Will jumped in second. He started to panic and he was breathing in lots of water.
“Another friend jumped in and tried to save him. Some walkers stopped and helped.
“I was very close to him. He was such a lovely boy. He wouldn’t do anything wrong.
“He was always there if you needed a shoulder to cry on. He also made everyone laugh and he had such a good personality about him.”
His friend Ben Field said: “Will was a great friend to me, more than great, from his ways of breaking the awkward silence to being a friend that can always be trusted.
“I’m going to really miss him because we had so much in common like the ‘click respect’ we invented.
“His personality was flawless and he will be in all our hearts forever as our experiences are unforgettable and it will never be the same without him.”
The emergency services were called at 7.45pm on Friday after William went underwater and failed to re-emerge.
Firefighters, police and the ambulance service’s Hazardous Area Response Team (HART) searched the river until 10.30pm using specialist water rescue equipment from the surrounding area.
Specially trained firefighters in dry suits entered the water using rescue sleds and tethered lines to search the waters of the River Ivel into the night but they were unable to locate William.
Firefighters and the police returned to the river on Saturday morning and retrieved his body with the assistance of the Thames Valley Police dive team.
An inquest was opened and adjourned on Tuesday. The coroner is awaiting further tests before an exact cause of death is determined.
You can read tributes to William on the right of this page and at www.facebook.com/BiggleswadeChronicle