Couple who found body of Megan Roberts in Ouse pledge to support York river safety campaign

York Press: Claire and James Fearns with Megan Roberts’ mum, Jackie Claire and James Fearns with Megan Roberts’ mum, Jackie

THE couple who found the body of York student Megan Roberts have pledged to help raise funds and river safety awareness to try to prevent another tragedy.

Megan was 20 when she disappeared following a night out in York with friends in the early hours of January 23. A major search of the city and the river was carried out by police, but her body was not found for almost six weeks.

Claire and James Fearns, from Brayton, were walking with their young children by the River Ouse in Acaster Malbis on March 1, when they saw something in the river.

Claire, 30, said: “We never knew Megan, but she has touched our lives and will always be in our thoughts. We will never forget Megan, even though we didn’t know her, but we feel as if we know her now.”

Recalling the day Megan was found, Claire said: “We were just walking and we saw something, we didn’t know what it was at the time, just coming down the middle of the river.

“James walked ahead with the children and I hung back with the dog trying to get a better look, because I still wasn’t happy. I think I knew what it was, but still wasn’t 100 per cent sure.”

The current brought the object closer to the riverbank and Claire said she thought it could be a body. She told James they should check more closely when it drifted behind a mooring.

James, 40, a sub-contracts manager for Doosan Babcock at Drax Power Station, said: “We knew if we drove away we would never know and the family would not have closure.

“There was a kind of peaceful feeling, a sort of relief - that’s it, that’s the end of the story and closure for whoever’s family this might be. Not in the ideal circumstances, but it meant some sort of closure for the family.”

Claire contacted Megan’s mother Jackie to express their sorrow for her loss, and the couple have pledged to help raise money and awareness for river safety campaigns and the York Rescue Boat, with whom Jackie is working.

Jackie said she had passed the spot where Megan’s body was found just days previously, and welcomed not only the closure Claire and James helped bring, but their efforts in raising money for the rescue boat.

She said: “Myself and a friend parked at Bishopthorpe and walked as far as we could go, then decided to go to the next village and ask how to get to Naburn Lock as there had been a false alarm there earlier in the week, which I was still reeling from.

“We came across the Ship Inn in Acaster, had a good look at the river, and went in to ask the bar staff where the lock was.

“I decided not to walk any further though, the hope of ever finding her after looking at the size of the river just seemed an impossibility. I was on the point of not being able to cope anymore. Megan couldn’t have chosen a nicer family to find her and I will obviously never forget the part they played in ending the weeks of torment and uncertainty.”

Meanwhile, fundraisers for Megan Roberts have handed over almost £4,000 to a river safety charity.

Jackie Roberts’ friend, Jayne Ragg, walked the Yorkshire Three Peaks last week with her sister, Suzanne King, to raise money for the York Rescue Boat, a charity set up by Dave Benson.

Jayne said: “It was hard, and it was meant to be, but we’re glad we did it.”

Suzanne said: “We made it in 12 hours exactly. We wanted to get that time, or just under, and we really had to go for it through the last part, but we did it.”

Between them, Jayne and Suzanne raised £1,160 for the charity, which hopes to raise £30,000 to provide a boat and volunteers to monitor the Ouse during busy periods, Claire and James Fearns also helped raise money for the charity, with James approaching fellow workers at Drax Power Station.

He said: “I knew Jackie’s friends were doing the Three Peaks, so I thought I could get involved and capitalise on more than 1,000 guys being on site.

“I went round the guys at work and did an announcement to say why I was doing it and who I was doing it for, and the guys were really on board with it, £5, £10, £20 at a time.”

Drax Power and Doosan Babcock donated £500 each, and the final collection totalled about £2,600, meaning the charity received a boost of about £3,760 this week.

Dave said: “I’m absolutely stunned to be honest. I didn’t expect it, I’m lost for words. It all goes towards the awareness campaign and the boat, and I think really there’s so much we can do with it.”

Comments (10)

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11:48am Thu 26 Jun 14

robynd says...

I don't see how a boat in the water will save people. Will it be manned all the time? Will it be out late at night? I think it's a nice idea but I can't honestly see how it will save people who fall in the water late at night.
I don't see how a boat in the water will save people. Will it be manned all the time? Will it be out late at night? I think it's a nice idea but I can't honestly see how it will save people who fall in the water late at night. robynd
  • Score: 9

3:08pm Thu 26 Jun 14

myselby says...

sorry to say i agree with robynd. i understand the need for people to 'do something'
However this project will no little if anything to improve river safety. they can not hope to cover all the rive side all of the time.
sorry to say i agree with robynd. i understand the need for people to 'do something' However this project will no little if anything to improve river safety. they can not hope to cover all the rive side all of the time. myselby
  • Score: 1

4:20pm Thu 26 Jun 14

Rubber Lips says...

Anybody else get the feeling this couple are enjoying their five mins of fame a little too much?
Anybody else get the feeling this couple are enjoying their five mins of fame a little too much? Rubber Lips
  • Score: -27

4:31pm Thu 26 Jun 14

CommonSense!! says...

Why not wait and see what the Rescue Boat has to offer before writing it off as useless? I take it you're both experts in water rescue to form such an opinion?

The boat is backed by all the agencies involved, all of whom think it is a good idea.
Why not wait and see what the Rescue Boat has to offer before writing it off as useless? I take it you're both experts in water rescue to form such an opinion? The boat is backed by all the agencies involved, all of whom think it is a good idea. CommonSense!!
  • Score: 6

5:57pm Thu 26 Jun 14

nottoooldtocare says...

Education and responsibility are the real answer to the problem. Tragic as all of these events have been, and there are too many, there appears to be one common factor and that is drink.
We have all had one too many over the years, but generally friends have been wise enough to realise that those who are clattered shouldn't be left alone and ensure they get home safely. I don't recall in the mid 70's to early 80's people falling into the river with the terrible consequences that have happened to Megan etc. Having said that, during that time you would have been embarrassed or found it humiliating to be ill in town to the extent you needed looking after. I am told that many of the younger element go out deliberately to get into a state. Why would anyone want to do that? All very, very sad.
Education and responsibility are the real answer to the problem. Tragic as all of these events have been, and there are too many, there appears to be one common factor and that is drink. We have all had one too many over the years, but generally friends have been wise enough to realise that those who are clattered shouldn't be left alone and ensure they get home safely. I don't recall in the mid 70's to early 80's people falling into the river with the terrible consequences that have happened to Megan etc. Having said that, during that time you would have been embarrassed or found it humiliating to be ill in town to the extent you needed looking after. I am told that many of the younger element go out deliberately to get into a state. Why would anyone want to do that? All very, very sad. nottoooldtocare
  • Score: 7

6:47pm Thu 26 Jun 14

I'msohappy.com says...

Rubber Lips wrote:
Anybody else get the feeling this couple are enjoying their five mins of fame a little too much?
I agree, this is more like a happy photo shoot rather than a photo of a grieving Mum and a couple who found a young deceased woman.
[quote][p][bold]Rubber Lips[/bold] wrote: Anybody else get the feeling this couple are enjoying their five mins of fame a little too much?[/p][/quote]I agree, this is more like a happy photo shoot rather than a photo of a grieving Mum and a couple who found a young deceased woman. I'msohappy.com
  • Score: -11

7:31pm Thu 26 Jun 14

Abdiel says...

nottoooldtocare wrote:
Education and responsibility are the real answer to the problem. Tragic as all of these events have been, and there are too many, there appears to be one common factor and that is drink.
We have all had one too many over the years, but generally friends have been wise enough to realise that those who are clattered shouldn't be left alone and ensure they get home safely. I don't recall in the mid 70's to early 80's people falling into the river with the terrible consequences that have happened to Megan etc. Having said that, during that time you would have been embarrassed or found it humiliating to be ill in town to the extent you needed looking after. I am told that many of the younger element go out deliberately to get into a state. Why would anyone want to do that? All very, very sad.
That's very true. I served in the navy and mates always looked after each other, didn't wander along leaving them alone and then in the morning asking where is he, why didn't he get back ok? Stick together, you go out as a group make sure you arrive home in one!
[quote][p][bold]nottoooldtocare[/bold] wrote: Education and responsibility are the real answer to the problem. Tragic as all of these events have been, and there are too many, there appears to be one common factor and that is drink. We have all had one too many over the years, but generally friends have been wise enough to realise that those who are clattered shouldn't be left alone and ensure they get home safely. I don't recall in the mid 70's to early 80's people falling into the river with the terrible consequences that have happened to Megan etc. Having said that, during that time you would have been embarrassed or found it humiliating to be ill in town to the extent you needed looking after. I am told that many of the younger element go out deliberately to get into a state. Why would anyone want to do that? All very, very sad.[/p][/quote]That's very true. I served in the navy and mates always looked after each other, didn't wander along leaving them alone and then in the morning asking where is he, why didn't he get back ok? Stick together, you go out as a group make sure you arrive home in one! Abdiel
  • Score: 4

10:56pm Thu 26 Jun 14

vax2002 says...

The Bigger picture must be seen.
Cheap cut price student drinks nights and cities with rivers simply do not mix.
The Bigger picture must be seen. Cheap cut price student drinks nights and cities with rivers simply do not mix. vax2002
  • Score: 0

11:00pm Thu 26 Jun 14

snickelwaysofyork says...

Out of darkness has come light. This young couple have helped Megan's Mum move forward. They have shown support in fundraising and in raising awareness of the dangers of the river. Reading the story and then the comments made reminds me of the saying 'it is better to light a single candle than to rant and rave about the darkness'.
Out of darkness has come light. This young couple have helped Megan's Mum move forward. They have shown support in fundraising and in raising awareness of the dangers of the river. Reading the story and then the comments made reminds me of the saying 'it is better to light a single candle than to rant and rave about the darkness'. snickelwaysofyork
  • Score: 13

6:01pm Fri 27 Jun 14

spottycow says...

So sorry about MEGAN but why dont people lookout for each other or are we all SELFISH NOW
So sorry about MEGAN but why dont people lookout for each other or are we all SELFISH NOW spottycow
  • Score: -2

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