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Charity volunteer Alice Barnett, from Canterbury, drowns along with Summer Robertson while on adventure trip near Port Elizabeth in South Africa

A young charity volunteer from Canterbury drowned as she was swept out to sea in South Africa during a 10-week work placement.

Alice Barnett, 19, died when she got caught in strong currents during a swim with four friends.

She had been due to return home this week following a stay at a remote camping resort in the Eastern Cape area near the city of Port Elizabeth.

Charity volunteer Alice Barnett drowned in South Africa
Charity volunteer Alice Barnett drowned in South Africa

Her father Pete Gallagher, an actor and director, paid tribute to his daughter on Twitter on Monday saying: “Tomoro @6.25am Alice was due home from her Sth African adventure. We’ll be raising a Bloody Mary (her choice).”

He was also quoted in the Evening Standard newspaper saying there were “no words to say how devastated we are to have lost our beloved angel Alice”.

“She just went out to South Africa because she wanted to help people. She had the time of her life when she was in Cambodia last year for six weeks and wanted to do a longer trip this time.

“Alice was my hero. A friend of mine rang me today who I hadn’t spoken to in a while and said I’m calling because you once told me your daughter was your hero and no one has ever said that to me before. She was remarkable. An inspiration,” he added.

Alice Barnett
Alice Barnett

According to the paper, local authorities said Alice and her friends had encountered fierce currents and got into difficulties in the water near the town of Kenton-on-Sea, where the Indian Ocean meets the South Atlantic, on December 4.

Volunteer lifeguards spotted the group in trouble and launched a rescue operation.

Three of the swimmers, believed to be a 41-year-old man and a woman and a man both aged 18, were pulled to safety and are still in hospital.

Fellow British volunteer Summer Robertson, 21, from Shrewsbury, Shropshire, also drowned.

Alice had been a pupil at the Sir Henry Floyd Grammar School in Aylesbury, Bucks.

Her former headmaster, Stephen Box, told the paper she had been teaching special needs children in South Africa and helping to educate young people about the dangers of drugs, alcohol and Aids.

A fundraising website has been set up in honour of Alice's charity work. To donate visit www.justgiving.com/beautifulalice.

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