A boy who was celebrating his eighth birthday drowned yesterday despite an underwater rescue attempt in the River Wharfe.

People attempted in vain to save Aaron Page when he went into water, which is about 25ft deep, near a footbridge at Bolton Abbey.

His 13-year-old brother, who was part of a family gathering of 25, raised the alarm.

A police spokesman said: “People entered the water to try to help but were unable to due to the depth of the water and the strong undercurrents. He could not be resuscitated.”

Medical staff were on standby and the Yorkshire Air Ambulance joined a search along the riverbank.

An underwater search team from the Upper Wharfe Fell Rescue Association (UWFRA) were joined by police divers and, after a search lasting more than three hours, Aaron’s body was discovered in the water.

The accident happened at about 3pm. His body was discovered at 6.25pm, downstream from the footbridge and stepping stones at Bolton Abbey.

Harry Long, a controller for the UWFRA, said 28 members of the association’s team had been involved in the bid to save Aaron, from Pontefract, West Yorkshire.

Fire and ambulance crews were also sent to the beauty spot.