Chepstow Leisure Centre will campaign with the South Wales Fire Service, Severn Area Rescue Association (SARA) and local police to help promote Drowning Prevention Week.  The national campaign run by the UK’s drowning prevention charity, the Royal Life Saving Society UK (RLSS UK), runs from 18th to 26th June and raises awareness of the 400 people who lose their lives each year.  It aims to ensure everyone knows how to have fun and stay safe near water.

Chepstow Leisure Centre will run a week of activities during children’s swimming lessons and will deliver vital safety information to local primary schools to cut preventable deaths.

Chepstow’s fire and rescue service station manager, Steve Cooper said: “Around 400 people needlessly die from drowning in the UK every year and thousands more suffer injury, some life-changing, through near-drowning experiences.  Shockingly, one person drowns every 20 hours in the UK and drowning is the leading cause of accidental death of children in the UK.

“Chepstow Leisure Centre is a fantastic place for people to enjoy water safely and it also provides swimming lessons for people of all ages.  We are proud to be supporting RLSS UK’s Drowning Prevention Week by informing adults and children how to stay safe near water, while offering a fun set of lessons for children.  We want people to stay safe in Monmouthshire and beyond.  By supporting the campaign we are doing our very best to give people vital skills that can save lives.”

Chepstow Leisure Centre Manager Helen Dymond thinks it’s fantastic to see so many local agencies joining forces and working together to help spread such an important message.  She said: “We are hoping to raise money for RLSS UK’s campaign by holding a charity car wash in the leisure centre car park on Saturday 18th June from 9am to12noon and SARA is holding an open day on Sunday 26th June from 11am to 4pm at Beachley’s lifeboat and mountain rescue centre.”

SARA’s Training Manager David Brown based at Beachley added: “Every year we’re asked by the coastguard, fire and rescue service, DEFRA, police and other agencies to assist people in difficulty.  None of these people expected to get into difficulty and none of them expected it to happen to them.  Of the 27 calls received at our Beachley and Newport stations this year, the majority of them were preventable with knowledge.  Children especially don’t see potential dangers around water and so we fully support and encourage activities such as Drowning Prevention Week to allow all to enjoy the outdoors safely.  It’s free, it’s fun and it makes sense to help people prepare the best they can.  I’d encourage everyone, especially parents and children to join us during the week.”

Di Steer, RLSS UK’s Chief Executive, said: “We want as many children as possible to sign up to these fun events and learn essential water safety skills that could potentially save lives.  We thank Chepstow Leisure Centre, South Wales Fire Service, Severn Area Rescue Association and Chepstow’s police for getting involved with our campaign and helping to spread water safety messages at such a high risk time of the year.”

Councillor Bob Greenland, Monmouthshire’s cabinet member with responsibility for leisure said: “It is vitally important that we warn people about the risks presented by water and the county council is pleased to back the Royal Life Saving Society and its Drowning Prevention Week campaign as well as work with other partners to cut accidents and fatalities.”

Drowning Prevention Week will see schools, clubs, leisure centres and communities promote water safety through events, lessons, games and activities in a bid to make people more aware of the dangers of water.  RLSS UK provides a host of resources including videos, presentations, lesson plans and games.

Drowning Prevention Week aims to raise money for the RLSS UK’s wider drowning prevention work, which includes providing support for families affected by drowning or near drowning.  People can donate by texting DRPW16 with the donation amount to 70070.