The parents of a two-year-old boy who died in hospital after he was found in a garden pond paid tribute last night to their “happy-go-lucky little boy”.
Jack Welch was visiting his grandfather on Monday when he managed to open a security gate which blocked off part of his grandparents’ garden, according to his mother, Heather.
When his grandfather noticed he could not hear the toddler playing, he realised the child had strayed into the main part of the garden, where he found him in the pond.
The toddler was rushed to hospital for treatment but, despite medics’ efforts, died the next day.
Last night Mrs Welch, aged 30, and her husband David, aged 46, said in a statement: “Jack was a fun-loving, mischievous, happy-go-lucky little boy, who put a smile on everybody’s face.
“Everyone is going to miss him - not only us but his two teenage brothers, Nick and Jamie, the rest of his family, friends and everyone in the village.”
Mrs Welch, a teaching assistant at a special school in Warwick, dropped her son off at his grandparents’ house in Clinton Avenue, Hampton Magna, Warwick, on Monday before she went to work.
“Jack spent the morning with my father, visiting relatives,” she said in a statement released by police.
“At about 12.30pm they went back to dad’s house and Jack started to help dad prepare lunch.
“He got bored and went to the side of the house to play with toys in a specially-contained area away from the main garden.
“Shortly afterwards dad noticed he couldn’t hear Jack playing, looked up, and realised that Jack had somehow opened the security gate we had put in at the side of the house, and he had gone into the main part of the garden.
“He found Jack in the pond and called for an ambulance whilst trying to resuscitate him.”
Emergency services took the toddler to Warwick Hospital where police alerted his parents, who accompanied him to the Leicester Royal Infirmary.
Mrs Welch said: “The medical staff did their very best to save him for over 30 hours, but despite their best efforts we were told that nothing could be done and we took the agonising decision to turn off his life-support system.”
She and her husband, who works a lorry driver, thanked staff at both hospitals for their dedication and kindness.
Earlier on Thursday, neighbours of Jack’s grandparents - named locally as Dave and Sue Shirley - spoke of their shock and sympathy for the family.
One woman, who did not wish to be named, said: “The grandfather is a pillar of the community. It’s really quite devastating for everybody.”
She said Mr Shirley had been admitted to hospital: “He was so devastated they had to put him under sedation.”Keith Talbot, aged 68, who lives close to the Shirleys’ quiet cul-de-sac, said: “Dave Shirley is the parish councillor. He’s Mr Hampton Magna.
He’s well-known and well-liked and involved with a lot of things in the village.”
The coroner has been informed of the death, which police are not treating as suspicious.