TRIBUTES have been paid to two friends who drowned while on a day out to Bath.

Samuel Fernandez, 20, and Velly Sousa, 24, worked at the Tesco Extra on Ocotal Way and were enjoying a well-earned day off when tragedy struck.

Store manager Steve Baker said: “We were deeply saddened by the deaths of our colleagues and we are supporting their families and colleagues at this very difficult time. They were both wonderful colleagues, and were loved by customers and the team at Swindon Tesco Extra.

"We are all extremely upset by the tragic news, and we would like to send our deepest condolences to Sam’s and Velly’s families, loved ones, friends and colleagues.”

Karen Brown said: “RIP two lovely young lads who had their whole lives ahead of them, who had worked so so hard from the start of lockdown and went out for one day. We will miss you so much and our Tesco 3230 family won’t be the same.”

Kellie Timms said: “RIP to you both. Thoughts are with your friends and families. You will both be missed at work.”

According to a friend, Velly began to drown while swimming in the River Avon on Thursday so Samuel jumped in to save him but drowned during the rescue attempt.

Coun Bazil Solomon told the Adver: “It’s a horrible thing and it brought tears to my eyes. These brave key workers went out for a carefree trip and it ended tragically.

“I’ve been with the Goan community and teaching them for quite some time. Family is very important to them, they always look after each other.

“We are doing an online tribute so that people can express their grief and I would like to visit the families once lockdown is over and offer my sympathies. The outpouring of grief shows Swindon’s wonderful sense of community across the spectrum.”

South Swindon MP Robert Buckland said: “Very sad news. Thinking of them and their families at this time of grief and loss.”