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Devastated dad's river tragedy tribute to son

Tragic Danny cuddles his beloved niece Rebecca
Tragic Danny cuddles his beloved niece Rebecca

A devastated dad has paid a heartbreaking tribute to his son after he drowned in an apparently tragic accident in the River Welland at a Stamford beauty spot.

Grief-stricken Alan Freeman, 56, saluted his son Danny Freeman, 28, also known as Danny Wood, after he was found dead last Friday afternoon in a devastating incident which has shocked the town.

Mr Freeman told the Mercury: “We still cannot believe that Danny has gone.

“He had his whole life in front of him and this
has devastated the entire family.”

The well-known businessman spoke as shattered relatives and friends set up a poignant shrine to Danny, a talented chef, just feet from where his body was found in the water.

Floral tributes and cards to Danny at the site where he died (4011225)
Floral tributes and cards to Danny at the site where he died (4011225)

The alarm was raised by a shocked male passer-by at about 2pm as hundreds of shoppers flocked in bright sunshine to a packed antiques fair just 200 yards away in The Meadows.

More than a dozen police officers and firefighters dashed to the scene just minutes from where top BBC1 show Bargain Hunt was being filmed at the special three-day market.

Mr Freeman, who owns the Country Lounge Cafe Bar at Morcott, said: “It seems to have been a freak tragedy - a real million to one accident.

“Danny may have had a drink in town before falling asleep on the riverbank.

“I think he may have fallen forwards and hit his head on a stone on the riverbed knocking him out.

“Danny was found face down in the water with his legs crossed.”

He added: “The river’s very shallow at that point so I’m sure he’d have climbed back out if he could have done.

“The man who found Danny said he looked at peace and looked well so I don’t think he was in the water long.”

Mr Freeman said Danny, who attended Catmose College, Oakham, had split his time between his family home in Duddington and his mum Tracy Wood’s house in Oakham.

“Danny had his provisional driving licence in his wallet when he was found so police quickly identified him and rang his mother first.

“She collapsed and couldn’t even speak to police - and is obviously finding this very hard to deal with,” he said.

“I separated from Tracy when Danny was just two so he’s grown up with two families and had a lot of good people around him.

“He was a well-loved young man and had an outstanding career as a chef in front of him.

“Danny had the world at his feet and we’re all going to miss him so much.”

Alan said Danny had been working as chef at the Country Lounge Cafe Bar with his beloved half-brother Hayden Freeman, 24.

“He worked very hard and was getting on well here.

“Danny had also worked at the Royal Oak in Duddington and the top Titchwell Manor Hotel in Norfolk,” he said.

“He loved this industry and was a very talented chef.

“The week he died Danny had gone into Stamford on the Wednesday to meet up with a few friends and hadn’t come home.

“But he had time off work so that wasn’t unusual for him.”

Alan said they hoped to stage Danny’s funeral at All Saints’ Church, Oakham, in the next fortnight followed by a private family service at a local crematorium.

“He had so many mates I’m sure hundreds of people will turn out to pay their last respects to Danny.

“We’ve been absolutely inundated with messages and cards from people who knew him and can’t believe this has happened,” said Mr Freeman.

As well as Hayden, Danny had half-brothers Bradley, 22, and Eddie, 25, and sister Becky, 29.

Police said Danny was declared dead by a doctor shortly after his body was recovered. His death is not being treated as suspicious.

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