The mother of an 11-month-old boy who said "cheeky little chappie" wants to be "the heart of our family for many years to come".

Zakari William Bennett-Eko was pulled out of the Irwell River in Radcliffe, Greater Manchester, by firefighters after reports that he had a baby in the water shortly before 4.25pm ​​on Wednesday.

He was taken to the scene near Blackburn Street in the town center but died a short time later.

In a tribute issued on Friday, his mother Emma Blood said: "On Wednesday afternoon my life changed forever. I woke up to be the most wonderful little kid and by the afternoon Zakari.

"Zakari was my life for 11 months and wants to be the heart of our family for many years to come.

"Hey what a cheeky little chappie with a smile that melted hearts. He was the youngest of five generations of our family and was loved beyond belief.

"Zakari wrapped everyone around his little finger. He was a happy and content baby. Everyone is in love with him instantly.

It's hard to comprehend what has happened and that I do not want to see my baby grow up.

"My family and I would like to thank everyone for their continued support, it is very much appreciated and would like to ask for privacy at this traumatic time."

Tearful mourners, many who were mothers with young children, have left flowers, soft toys and candles on the bridge in Blackburn Street.

Emma Blood with her son Zakari William Bennett-Eko
Emma Blood with her son Zakari William Bennett-Eko (Family Handout / PA)

Among the tributes was a large cuddly bear with a card which read: "To a beautiful little boy. Sleep tight little man. Our thoughts are with your family. From all of us at Lidl Radcliffe. "

One card with flowers read: "Goodnight and God Bless beautiful innocent boy. Fly high angel. "

Earlier on Friday, Zakari's father made his first appearance in court accused of the youngster's murder.

Zak Eko, 22, of no fixed address, was brought from custody to Manchester Magistrates' Court on Friday.

Zak Bennett-Eko and confirmed his date of birth.

Eko, wearing a gray top and gray jogging bottoms, told by Deputy District Judge Vincent McDade that the matter needed to be dealt with in a crown court.

Crown Court on Monday September 16.