Man drowns in Cambridgeshire river after apparently jumping in to retrieve a football

Emergency services search for a missing person.

Emergency services search for a missing person. - Credit: Archant

A man drowned today in Cambridgeshire after apparently jumping into the Great Ouse to retrieve a football shortly before a water festival was due to start.

The tragedy happened in St Neots as the town was about to start its annual dragon boat festival – the town council promptly cancelled today’s events.

Specialist dive teams from Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service scoured the river for some time searching for the body.

Emergency services were called to the area shortly after 9.30am; it was not until 3pm when rescuers recovered the body.

A spokesman for the dragon boat event posted on Twitter: “It is with great regret that today’s event has been cancelled.”

The festival had been organised by St Neots Town Council, St Neots Dragon Boat Team and the Rotary Club of St Marys St Neots and was set to feature Paralympian and downhill ski racer Sean Rose, who was attending as a special guest of the mayor, Councillor James Corley.

More than 20 crews from St Neots companies and organisations had been expected to race in 30ft dragon boats over the 200 metre course.

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