College friends of Tommy Cowan hold balloon release after his Mutiny Festival death

DOTING friends who are missing the '˜funny' and '˜cheerful' young chap they studied with after his sudden death at Mutiny Festival released balloons into the sky to commemorate his life.

Sunday, 3rd June 2018, 9:23 pm
Updated Tuesday, 19th June 2018, 2:30 pm
Tommy Cowan's South Downs College uniformed services friends release their balloons in his memory at Fort Purbrook. Picture: Vernon Nash (180391-0013) PPP-180306-193017006

Tommy Cowan’s South Downs College friends gathered in the sunshine at Fort Purbrook yesterday to remember the young lad – the place the group took uniformed services lessons together from 2015-2017.

Tommy died after falling ill at Mutiny Festival on Saturday, May 26.

The 20-year-old dad-of-one collapsed on King George V Playing Fields, at 7.30pm, after festival organisers had warned of a ‘bad batch’ of drugs on-site.

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Tommy Cowan's South Downs College uniformed services friends release their balloons in his memory at Fort Purbrook. Picture: Vernon Nash (180391-0013) PPP-180306-193017006

The group remembered their happy times with Tommy, smiling as they released the blue balloons with a view of the Solent.

Sammy Wincott, who studied with Tommy, organised the ceremony and said the course group wanted to do something to mark his life.

Sammy said: ‘Tommy was one of my best mates. We studied uniformed services together for two years and I’ve known him for about four.

‘We were all one big family on our course and he was a big part of that, we all did everything together so that’s why we wanted to do the balloon release.

Tommy Cowan, who died after falling unwell at Mutiny Festival 2018 PPP-180529-133742001

‘Tommy meant everything to me. He had his whole life ahead of him and he meant so much to everyone.

‘He was amazing and was the one who cheered everyone else up.

‘I was distraught when I got the phone call to say he had died, I had to tell one of our other friends.

‘If he was still here I would tell him all he has to do is ride the wave, and everything will be okay.’

Tommy left behind a girlfriend and his one-year-old son Milo.

He was taken to Queen Alexandra Hospital in Cosham after he fell ill, but later died, along with 18-year-old Georgia Jones, who fell unwell at 7.10pm.

Georgia’s mother said her daughter had taken two pills.

Organiser of the festival, Luke Betts, cancelled the second day of the event and spoke of his devastation at what had happened.

Louis Vickers, 20, who was at the ceremony, said releasing the balloons was the group’s personal way of remembering Tommy.

He said: ‘I was good friends with Tommy, we shared many laughs.

‘He was a really cheerful fella, always joking around – definitely one of those people that stands out.

‘I heard people had died at Mutiny, and it was only when I finished work I found out one of them was Tommy.

‘I was really shocked, it didn’t fully hit me until later on, on the Saturday night.

‘We’re all devastated and I think there should have been more security at the event.

‘There’s no way we can fully stop all people taking drugs at festivals, but I believe more measures should have been put in place at Mutiny Festival.’

Five people were arrested concerning the supply of Class A drugs and all have been released from custody, but remain under investigation.

They are a 21-year-old woman from Waterlooville, a 21-year-old man from Havant, a 20-year-old man from Havant, a 20-year-old man from Waterlooville, and a 22-year-old man from Cosham.

Tommy’s grieving dad Damian Cowan, 43, paid tribute to his ‘brilliant’ son in The News last week.