The parents of a Sheffield schoolboy who drowned in the devastating flood 10 years ago have told how much it meant to hear from friends about his countless acts of kindness.
Ryan Parry, a 14-year-old from Gleadless, was swept to his death in Millhouses Park on June 25, 2007.
His parents Chris and Mandy said they only learned after his death how many people’s lives the caring soul had touched.
“We only found out after Ryan died that there was an autistic child at the bottom of the road and Ryan used to go down and help them all the time,” said Chris.
“We also learned how he had helped old ladies with their shopping, and it meant a lot to us to hear all those stories.
“He was just that kind of child.
It’s difficult watching his friends around here grow up because you wonder what Ryan would have been like and what he would have done. He was mischievous and always doing something he shouldn’t have. He loved lifeMandy Parry
“You meet certain people in life who you know you’ll never find anyone like that again, and he was one of them.
“He was one of a kind.”
Mandy said she still visits his grave most weeks and often attaches Scooby-Doo balloons because that was his favourite cartoon as a child.
While Chris and Mandy find it hard to visit the memorial in Millhouses Park, Abby and Ryan’s older brother Danny, aged 30, visit regularly to lay flowers.
Ryan was keen on jiu-jitsu and was interested in becoming an electrician, although his dad believes he would have followed him into the antiques trade because he had ‘the gift of the gab’.
But Mandy said his real interest was in other people.
“He liked people and he was a happy-go-lucky child,” she said.
“He had a permanent smile attached to his face. You could fall out with him and five minutes later he would be back smiling.
“He was mischievous and always doing something he shouldn’t have. He loved life.
“It’s difficult watching his friends around here grow up because you wonder what Ryan would have been like and what he would have done.”
Ryan had been making his way home from King Ecgbert School in Dore, his school bus having been cancelled due to the flood, on the afternoon he died.
His parents still cherish the book of condolences put together by his former schoolmates.
The moving messages recall his ‘cheesy smile’, his ‘cheekiness’, the hugs he handed out liberally and, above all, his sense of fun.
One old school mate described him as ‘the funniest person’ and another as ‘the amazing fun-loving guy who always brightened up my day’.
Ryan was a good swimmer but his mum said he stood ‘no chance’ against the raging current he encountered that day.
Mandy said she found it especially difficult hearing about other people drowning, especially when a boy who was called Ryan died recently.
She urged people if they were in any doubt to ‘stay away’ from rivers and open water, given the dangers they pose even to competent swimmers.