HEARTBROKEN friends of canal death victim Matthew Cartwright have paid their own special tribute to the youngster - by painting a huge mural of him on a wall in Mexborough.
The news comes as British Waterways officials agreed this week to introduce new safety measures at the scene of his death in the hope of avoiding another tragedy.
Matthew, eight, fell into a canal at Swinton and drowned while out picking blackberries with a friend in August.
He had been due to join other artistic classmates in designing a mural to put on a wall behind the Hallgate Centre.
But while he was absent for the mural’s painting this week, friends made sure he will be remembered forever.
They designed the 25m long mural around Matthew sitting on his bike, surrounded by wildlife and trees.
The artwork was created by about a dozen youngsters, aged six to 16, all of whom knew Matthew.
One of the organisers, Jim Shaw, said: “Matthew was due to be part of the project and all of his friends were heartbroken when they learned of his death.
“But they thought there would be no better tribute than to paint the mural of him.
“We got together all the things that Matthew liked, such as his bike and wildlife, and put them all into the picture.”
Meanwhile, just as the mural was being finished on Tuesday afternoon, safety campaigners and Matthew’s relatives met British Waterways bosses at the scene of his death.
They managed to score a victory as officials agreed to plant more vegitation along gaps on the canal bank to stop people from gaining access to the water’s edge.
The South Yorkshire Times has been supporting residents through our ‘Keep Our Waterways Safe’ campaign, and more than 800 people have signed a petition in support of extra safety measures being introduced.
Campaigner Tracey Davies said: “Extra vegitation will keep people away from the canal’s edge, but this is only a short-term measure.
“In the long-term we would like warning signs and life-preservers along the canal bank.”
Matthew’s grandad Kevin added: “We are quite pleased with this measure, it is about all we can ask for at the moment. But we will keep the pressure on for more safety measures.”
British Waterways have confirmed they will look at long-term safety measures after the inquest into Matthew’s death has been concluded.