Christmas is meant to be a special time to share with loved ones, but for the family of Ross Irwin, it will be a tragic reminder of their loss.

Much loved Ross is thought to have fallen into the river after a night out with work colleagues in Tyne and Wear on 23 December 2016.

The fun loving 22 year old left the pub just before 11pm, telling friends he was going to get a taxi to Sunderland. It is thought he went through a small gap in a fence by the river bank to urinate and unfortunately fell down the drop straight into the river. His body was found on Christmas Eve, about 100 yards down the river from where he fell in.

His heartbroken father, Dave said his son was an inspiration. Ross lived with his mam Debbie, but they weren’t just mother and son they were also best friends. Despite being diagnosed with cerebral palsy as a toddler, Ross never let the condition affect him.

Dave, Crew Manager for Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service, said: “Ross was a fun loving, genuine, selfless, caring and funny young man. He never let his disability get in the way of his life. He loved “the sesh” with his friends and was living life to the full.

“It was my fire fighter colleagues and friends who removed the body. I spent 14 years on that watch and they knew who Ross was as soon as they removed his wallet from his jeans.”

Dave said Ross had been excited about his position at the child benefit office being made permanent and was looking forward to his summer holiday to Miami and Orlando with his family.

Dave is supporting the RLSS UK’s Don’t Drink and Drown campaign, urging people not to take risks on a night out. He said: “We never expected anything like this to happen. It has left us utterly shattered. If I can manage to stop this tragedy from ever happening again I am willing to talk about this incident to anybody who is willing to listen.”

Support RLSS UK’s Don’t Drink and Drown campaign