Easter break brings swimming warning

By Ian Dipple Friday 11 April 2014 Updated: 11/04 09:37

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YOUNG people are being urged to stay safe and stay out of the water as schools break-up for the Easter holidays.

Coun Rebecca Blake, Redditch Borough Council's community safety chief, has issued the warning in the wake of the recent death of Brockhill teenager Richard Fellows near the Five Tunnels in Church Hill.

Despite the tragedy police have already spoken to a number of young people who have been caught swimming in the same spot where the 15-year-old lost his life.

The council, together with Marian Barton, headteacher at Trinity High School where Richard attended, has this week sent letters to the borough's schools urging them to warn their pupils of the dangers of swimming in open water. They have also been provided with safety information to hand out.

Other measures, such as permanent warning signs, are being looked at with police, the fire service and the Royal Life Saving Society.

There are also plans to run life-saving courses in the summer holidays with the drowning prevention charity and open water safety sessions in schools and during swimming lessons held at council owned pools. Those under 16 are also being urged to sign up for the council's free swimming scheme at the Abbey Stadium and Kingsley College pools.

Coun Blake told the Standard: "While the council is working with RoSPA to learn how to make the town's waterways as safe as possible, educating people about risk of drowning in open water, is the best way to try and keep people safe, especially young people including 15 to 19-year-old boys who are significantly at risk.

"It's the unseen dangers that put lives at risk and even good swimmers get into difficulty because of cold water, hidden currents and getting caught on things that lie under the surface. If you see people swimming in open water, please remind them they are not only putting their own life at risk they are putting others lives at risk who might try and help them if they get into difficulty."

Redditch MP Karen Lumley met with the RLSS in Parliament and has offered to lobby the Department of Education in support of the charity's bid to get water safety included as part of the national curriculum.

"All stakeholders must come together to provide support to help communities and prevent these tragedies happening again. I look forward to working with them in the coming months and will do all I can to support their cause."

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