A man who died in the River Aire this weekend has been named as Farnley Academy teacher Lewis Howlett.
Mr Howlett, aged 25, had taught English at Farnley Academy for the past three years.
As previously reported, Mr Howlett entered the river at Redcote Lane in Kirkstall at 8.30pm on Saturday but vanished beneath the surface and failed to emerge. He was with a friend.
In a letter to parents today, Farnley principal Chris Stokes described the popular teacher as a ‘rising star’. He said:
“At just 25 years old, Lewis was an absolute rising star. He was in his third year with us at The Farnley Academy and was known and respected by all.
“Lewis’ ability to teach English was just astonishing. Having personally witnessed him teach on a number of occasions he sought every opportunity to bring the subject to life.
“Lewis promoted literacy and a love of reading to all and had a unique ability to engage even the most disengaged reader. Such was the quality of Lewis’ teaching, after just 12 months working in the academy, Lewis took on his first management responsibility as a ‘Teaching & Learning Leader’.
“Coupled with this, Lewis volunteered to lead the school in our efforts to promote Oracy through our Trust wide Voice21 programme.
“Whilst standing in Lewis’ classroom this morning, admiring his wall of
thank you cards from students, it is so abundantly clear that Lewis had so much more to give and had he had the opportunity would have gone on to achieve great things for our school and the wider teaching profession.
“Our community is absolutely devastated by his untimely death.”
The school’s inclusion team have been contacting parents of children who are most likely to be distressed by this news. The school has put in place a variety of support offerings for staff and pupils.
A major police and fire service search found Mr Howlett’s body in the early hours of yesterday morning (Sunday).
A statement from his family said:
“We are devastated by the sudden loss of our son Lewis.
“He was loved by all who knew him and our lives will never be the same without him.
“The family now ask for privacy so we can grieve.”
Detective Inspector James Entwistle, of Leeds District CID, warned of the dangers of swimming in open water. He said:
“This is an absolutely tragic loss of the life of a young man, and his family and friends have been left completely devastated.
“Our sympathies are very much with them, and with the school community, at what will be an understandably difficult time.
“Although we are still working to establish the full circumstances of this incident to assist the Coroner, his death does appear to starkly illustrate the dangers of swimming in open water.
“We hope that people will recognise the risks and the tragic consequences that can occur and avoid swimming in open water, no matter how tempting it might be in the hot weather.”
Police and Yorkshire Water issued a warning on Saturday morning following an incident where a 12-year-old girl was taken to hospital after getting into difficulty while swimming at Ardsley Reservoir, in Leeds.
Local neighbourhood policing teams have also dealt with a number of incidents over the weekend with groups congregating at rivers and reservoirs.
West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service’s District Commander for Leeds, Andy Farrell, said:
“We are very saddened to hear about this tragic loss of life and we extend our deepest sympathies to the family and friends of Lewis Howlett.
“With the recent good weather it’s tempting to go for a swim in rivers, lakes or reservoirs but you can quickly get into trouble with devastating consequences.
“We urge people to be extremely vigilant around open water. Even if you consider yourself to be a strong swimmer, you can suddenly get out of your depth or be taken unawares by hidden undercurrents or cold water shock.”
Councillor Debra Coupar, Leeds City Council’s executive member for communities, said:
“It is heart-breaking to hear that a man has died in these circumstances and our thoughts are with his family and friends at this incredibly sad time.
“We understand that it can be tempting to go for a swim on a summer’s day, however, swimming in open water brings many unnecessary risks. We urge people to think twice about entering unsafe waters.”