The heartbroken parents of a three-year-old boy who drowned when he fell into a canal while feeding ducks with his mother have paid tribute to him describing the blond toddler as their ‘rainbow baby.’
Dylan Milsom was swept downstream after toppling into the fast-flowing water at the Kennet and Avon Canal in Newbury, Berkshire.
Despite his mother Shelley Nardini diving into the canal to try to save him last Saturday, he was later pronounced dead.
An inquest is due to be opened into his death by the Berkshire Coroner in the next few days.
In a statement his parents said: ‘Dylan was our rainbow baby. We knew he was special from the moment he was born. He brought a ray of sunshine into our lives.
Dylan Milsom (pictured) and his mother Shelley Nardini were by the Kennet and Avon Canal in Newbury, Berkshire, when he fell in at 2pm last Saturday
The three-year-old’s mother, Shelley Nardini (pictured), dived in to help her son but sadly he was later pronounced dead
‘Blossoming into a happy, brave and warm little boy, his brightness simply shone from him wherever he went, always saying hello with a smile to everyone he met. He had an infectious energy for life and poured his heart and soul into everything he did.
‘Life was one big, exciting adventure and more than anything he loved being outdoors, so walks were part of our daily lives.
‘When out and about it was rare to see Dylan without his scooter or more recently his first bike which Santa had delivered down the chimney just last Christmas and if he wasn’t on two wheels, he was on his dad’s two shoulders!
‘On our walks, Dylan would splash in puddles, squelch through mud and climb any log he could find!
Dylan’s parents released a heartbreaking tribute to their son, describing him as their ‘rainbow baby’
‘We would pick up pooh sticks to throw into the river from the little bridge, feed the ducks, always keeping a look out for oval stones to add to his collection at home, and talk about ‘the sleeping hedgehog’ better known to us as fir cones!
‘Our walks would often have a park along the way where Dylan would often make a friend and he loved to play with others.’
Ms Nardini, 36, a social worker, jumped in to try to save her but he was swept almost a mile downstream before being pulled out of the water by workmen.
They were both rushed to hospital but the child died while his mother was treated and discharged.
Joe Bate, of the Dry Dock Company, a narrowboat company on the canal, said emergency services pulled the child out almost a mile from where he fell in.
He said he thought the automatic weir systems had contributed to the tragedy, with the canal flowing faster than normal.
Speaking about their son, his parents said: ‘Dylan was such a bright, clever and inquisitive boy who absorbed all that was around him.
‘He was always desperate to learn about everything he could, be it letters, numbers, or colours, and when asked, he would always say his favourite colours were yellow, orange, pink and purple – a very bright mix, fitting for such a bright boy.
‘Dylan loved going to pre-school so much, springing out of bed with a cheer on the days he went to Chieveley pre-school, excited to see his friends.
The mother and son were both rushed to hospital but the child died while his mother was treated and discharged. Pictured: Emergency services on the scene last weekend
‘Dylan’s warmth didn’t stop with just a smile for those he met, he was generous and always wanted to be helpful whether this be tidying up his toys, grooming our dog, unpacking the shopping or helping with his little brother.
‘He was great at encouraging his baby brother to learn new skills like rolling, walking and how to play games and when his brother needed comfort, Dylan would sing to him ‘Twinkle Twinkle Little Star’. Dylan truly was the best big brother anyone could wish for.
‘Dylan was such a funny little boy, bursting with character, a cheeky laugh and just the right amount of mischief. We often called him a cheeky monkey and he would always respond by telling us he was a Tiger, thinking this would get him out of being called cheeky!
‘From then he became our ‘cheeky Tiger’ and Dylan dubbed his little brother the ‘cheeky Monkey’ of the family.
On Mother’s Day Ms Nardini shared a photograph of her son with love heart emoji, with friends and family paying tribute.
The local council vowed to start urgent safety work to prevent more tragedies at the spot where Dylan died
His aunt Claire Arrowsmith wrote: ‘Your beautiful, funny, cheeky little boy. We love you so much Dylan.’
Another posted: ‘So beautiful. That smile will shine forever in our hearts Shelley.’
In their heartbreaking tribute to their son, the parents said it had ‘warmed our hearts’ to hear from people who knew Dylan.
They added: ‘In this past year the emergency services have been at the forefront of our minds and working at capacity.
‘We want to thank them, not only for their immense response and unrelenting effort to do everything possible to save our little boy, but for the genuine emotion and care displayed through their efforts. Our thanks to those individuals who gave everything they could to our family.
‘Dylan simply loved life and he made our lives richer every day. He had a beautiful smile, and we loved his cheeky happy go lucky zest for life.
Locals left floral tributes to the young boy and more than 3,400 people have signed a petition to encourage new safety measures around the weir
‘These words don’t even come close to describing what an amazing and special little boy Dylan was. Dylan touched the lives of so many people and brought so much light into the world of those who knew him and even those who didn’t.
‘We will miss our beautiful boy forever and keep him close in our hearts always. He will forever be our hero, our world, our everything – our Dylan.’
Locals in Newbury have called for improved safety measures at the Kennet and Avon canal in the wake of the tragedy.
More than 3,400 people have signed a petition to encourage new safety measures around the weir.
The local council vowed to start urgent safety work to prevent more tragedies at the spot where Dylan died.
West Berkshire Council said they are ‘looking at how future incidents could be prevented’.