Father Nathan Dobson is giving hundreds of lifejackets to schools after his son Lucas drowned (Image: STEVE FINN PHOTOGRAPHY)

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The father of a boy who drowned is handing out hundreds of lifejackets in a bid to prevent more tragedies.

Lucas Dobson, six, fell into a river while stepping on to a boat when out fishing with his dad Nathan, 37.

The boy was swept away by the tide and his body was found four days later.

Nathan, a mechanic, has now joined search and rescue expert Peter Faulding, whose team recovered Lucas’s body, to launch a new water safety campaign.

The dad said: “Lucas could swim but it was a one-off day when the tide was so high and so strong. He had no chance.

“Looking back, he should have been wearing a lifejacket.

“If we can prevent just one drowning, it will be worth it.” The pair had enjoyed many fishing trips on the River Stour in Kent.

Lucas Dobson fell into a river in Kent while out fishing with his father

But in August 2019 the child was swept to his death after falling into the gap between a boat and jetty.

Fighting back tears Nathan recalled: “I didn’t see him go in or hear a splash, I just heard someone shout ‘It’s Lucas’.

“In a split second he was gone and never came up.”

Nathan and two of his friends jumped into the river in a bid to save him.

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Lucas’ body was found by Mr Faulding’s Specialist Group International team.

He said: “Over 20 years I’ve recovered more than 100 drownings but Lucas was our youngest. It hit us particularly hard.”

Mr Faulding and Nathan started the Lucas Dobson Water Safety Campaign and are handing out more than 900 lifejackets to schools in Kent following a £10,000 fundraising drive.

Pupils can borrow buoyancy aids for free and Nathan wants the scheme to be nationwide.

Mr Faulding, who was an expert witness at the Gareth Williams “spy in the bag” inquest, is also working on a film about the dangers of drowning.

Mr Dobson was sailing on the River Stour (pictured) in Kent when his son fell in the water
(Image: Getty Images)

On Friday, Nathan and Mr Faulding will visit Lucas’s primary school Warden House in Deal to launch their campaign.

Headteacher Rob Hackett said: “As a coastal town, the children will often go to the beach with their families and the worst can sometimes happen if they are not adequately protected.

“But families can now pop into the school and ask to borrow a lifejacket.”

Darren Downes, whose son Ellis, 16, drowned in the River Thames in 2016 is also backing the initiative.

He said: “I would hate anybody else to go through what we had to go through.”

The campaign kicked off to coincide with National Drowning Prevention Week, which is launched on Saturday.

Experts hope to prevent a surge in tragedies as families return to beaches and waterways following lockdown.

Swim England estimates more than two million children missed out on lessons as a result of the pandemic.