Safety signs at Wells beach

New safety measures are being introduced on the North Norfolk coast in a bid to prevent a repeat of last year's tragedy when a teenager from London drowned.

New safety measures are being introduced on the North Norfolk coast in a bid to prevent a repeat of last year's tragedy when a teenager from London drowned.

Two new signs have been put up at the main entrances to Wells beach warning visitors of the dangers of the deadly currents and potential hazards showing, in diagram form, where it is not safe to swim. The safe swimming area is also shown.

A small-scale Tamil pilgrimage is due to be held on Sunday but the main event takes place in July.

The measures follow the incident last year when a 15-year-old Tamil boy from London, on an annual pilgrimage to Walsingham with his family, lost his life while swimming in the area near the lifeboat station.

The family had gone to Wells on July 8 with hundreds of other Tamils from the South London area for an afternoon of fun and relaxation after the morning pilgrimage.

At an inquest in November last year a verdict of “accidental death” was recorded on Anadarajan Neelprasantha, known as Neil, and the Greater Norfolk District coroner William Armstrong called for warning signs to be put in place to prevent such a tragedy happening again.

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In addition to the large signs put up this week by the Holkham Estate and the Wells Harbour Commissioners, leaflets containing a written warning and beach safety advice in Tamil are to be issued by stewards at the pilgrimage and by police on duty at Wells.

The dead teenager's friend, Krishnan Siavanthan, aged 11, told the inquest how he was playing in the channel with Neil. He told his friend not to swim out any further. But at about 5pm Neil did venture out further and then they both became stuck as the water became deeper.

Krishman was rescued by a man on the beach but the man was unable to reach Neil who was found dead in the sea by a rescue helicopter crew at just before 6pm, the inquest was told.

Mr Armstrong told the inquest it was important lessons were learned from Neil's death. He called for consideration to be given to putting measures in place so that people, of foreign origin, understand the potential dangers of the channels on the Wells beach.

Inspector Mike Brown, of Norfolk police, said considerable effort was being made to ensure that this year's main Tamil pilgrimage in July is as safe event for all and causes minimum disruption to the local community.

“In light of last year's tragedy, we support the placing of warning signs on or near the beach and have told the harbour management and Holkham Estate that we are happy to assist in any way we can to take this matter forward,” said Insp Brown.

He said beach safety leaflets would be distributed to the pilgrims and these will be printed in English and other languages warning them of the potential dangers of the waters in that area

Pinewoods holiday complex general manager Richard Seabrooke explained that the new signs have incorporated all the restrictions for people using the beaches. They are intended to replace the proliferation of different signs that have been on display up to now.

“In coming up with the design for the new signs the Tamil tragedy obviously had some influence we could not produce signs in all languages we felt that a pictorial would be the most effective way to get across the potential danger warning message,” said Mr Seabrooke.