Sea and Seafront at Blackpool

The UK’s Drowning Prevention Charity has this week launched a hard-hitting short film to mark the start of its annual campaign, Drowning Prevention Week.

‘Beneath the Surface – the Families’ Stories’ features people from across the UK who have lost someone to drowning and have shared their tragic experiences. The film aims to raise awareness of the issue of drowning and to encourage donations to back the campaign, which runs from June 20th – 28th this year.

Drowning Prevention Week is the Royal Life Saving Society UK’s (RLSS UK) flagship campaign which strives to help cut down the hundreds of deaths caused by accidental drowning across the UK every year. Latest figures released last week show 338 people lost their lives to drowning in 2014 – many of these deaths could have been preventable. And, for 2015, RLSS UK is adding to its focus to show the aftermath and effects on families who have lost those close to them.

RLSS UK ambassador, Jackie Roberts, lost her 20-year-old daughter Megan after she fell into the river Ouse in York in January 2014. Her story features in the film.

“Since losing Megan to drowning I’ve been actively involved in drowning prevention work, and working with the RLSS UK in the making of this film is something I am proud to be part of. I fully support RLSS UK and drowning prevention week and I hope that the film goes a long way in raising awareness about the dangers and the devastation that drowning leaves in its wake. Please watch and share as widely as possible.” – Jackie Roberts

The families of Richard ‘Porky’ Fellows and David Cullen, who both tragically drowned at the age of just 15-years-old, have also thrown their support behind Drowning Prevention Week and the charity’s work by sharing their stories. Richard Fellows drowned on March 16th 2014 when he got into difficulties after swimming in a river pool that forms part of the River Arrow in Redditch, Worcestershire.

“If Porky could warn people of the dangers, he would, which is why we want to raise awareness of our story through Drowning Prevention Week. If we can save just one life and prevent another family going through what we have it will be worth it.” – Richard’s dad

David Cullen tragically lost his life in Waterloo Lake, Roundhay Park, Leeds, on June 22, 2005 the 10th anniversary of his death falls within Drowning Prevention Week. His schoolmate, 15-year-old Christopher Copland, also drowned in the incident.

“We were all truly devastated the day David died. It is a day we will never forget. It was the hottest day of the year and it seemed like the longest day of our lives. We want to support Drowning Prevention Week as something has to be done to raise awareness of water safety and the dangers of lakes like the one in which we lost David.” – David’s sister Claire

Other families included in the film are Olivia and Nigel Rowe from Wiltshire who lost their three-year-old Jack in 2014, Stephen Harris from Nuneaton who lost his 18-year-old son, Jay, after he drowned in a quarry in 2009, Lucy Herd whose son Jack drowned in 2010, he was just under two-years-old, and Sue Mitchell whose son Alex drowned in London’s Serpentine in 2014, he was 26-years-old.

Each year, Drowning Prevention Week drives home water safety messages throughout a targeted week of activities, demonstrating how to stay safe and have fun near water. It also serves to raise money for the RLSS UK’s drowning prevention initiatives. Last year, thousands of primary schools, leisure centres and community groups delivered water safety lessons or events across the UK.

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