Family of tragic river death teen back national safety campaign

Richard Fellows' dad, also Richard Fellows, mum, Denise Fellows, sister, Chantalle Aston and brother in-law Paul Aston help launch Drowning Prevention Week 2014

Richard Fellows' dad, also Richard Fellows, mum, Denise Fellows, sister, Chantalle Aston and brother in-law Paul Aston help launch Drowning Prevention Week 2014

First published in News

THE families of two teenage boys who lost their lives in separate incidents have backed the Royal Life Saving Society UK’s national campaign, Drowning Prevention Week.

The charity’s annual campaign aims to cut down the hundreds of deaths caused by accidental drowning across the UK every year and this year runs from June 21-29, and this year includes a hard-hitting short film . For 2014 the campaign is adding to its focus audience of primary school-aged children by targeting 11 to15-year-olds.

And the families of Richard Fellows, from Redditch, and David Cullen, from Leeds, who both tragically drowned at the age of just 15 have thrown their support behind Drowning Prevention Week and the charity’s work.

Richard Fellows drowned on March 16 this year when he got into difficulties after swimming with two friends in river pool that forms part of the River Arrow in Redditch.

Richard’s dad, also Richard, said: “It is hard to say how I feel, and the rest of the family. It hasn’t really sunk in yet, I can’t believe that he’s drowned. Treasure every moment like it’s your last.

“If he 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.”

The hard-hitting film, produced by Chrome Productions and Artem SFX, focuses on a young boy who meets his friends near a river and takes part in a dare which has tragic consequences. It is also accompanied by new resources aimed at the high risk age group, including school lesson plans and assembly briefings.

RLSS UK campaign manager, Karen Welsh, said: “Firstly, we are extremely grateful to the families of David and Richard for telling their stories and backing our campaign, we hope that people will listen and understand such a tragedy could happen to anyone.

“During this year’s campaign we are hoping to reach this key age-group, most at risk of drowning, as well as continue to target younger children before they reach the age they will be most vulnerable.

“Young people are more likely to take risks while out with friends and be tempted to cool off and spend time in rivers, quarries and reservoirs during the summer months. We hope the film will strike a chord and make people think twice, we do not want a repeat of last summer’s tragedies.”

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 drowning prevention initiatives.

Money raised from last year’s Drowning Prevention Week campaign was used to set up a new support forum and counselling service for families affected by drowning or near drowning.

For more details, see drowningpreventionweek.org.uk or contact dpw@rlss.org.uk. To view the film visit bit.ly/1tqKGbI. People can also see facebook.com/RLSSUK or call 01789 773994

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