Grieving mum fights for water safety to be taught in schools

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A GRIEVING mother who lost her teen son to cold water shock is campaigning for school’s to add open water safety education to the curriculum. 

Rebecca Ramsay’s son Dylan died back in 2011 after he went swimming with friends at Hill Top Quarry near Chorley in Lancashire.

Despite being a strong swimmer, the 13-year-old drowned when his body went into shock due to the plummeting water temperature.

Dylan’s mother, Rebecca has dedicated the past ten years to visiting hundreds of schools with her Doing it for Dylan campaign to teach youngsters about water safety.

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Dylan Ramsay

The full-time campaigner has also worked with fire services across the country in order to create awareness and lesson plans for teachers. 

Last week Rebecca, 40, started a petition urging the UK government to add “increase curriculum content about water safety as part of swimming lessons”.

Speaking today, mum-of-four Rebecca said: “With the ten year anniversary fast approaching I felt useless.

“Usually we would be planning something to celebrate Dylan’s life but with all the lockdown restrictions we’ve not been able to.

“I can’t do anything for my son other than to try and ensure his death was not in vain, which is why I’m here making this plea.

“I don’t want anyone else to go through this. I never want another mum to feel how I feel.

“Dylan had been in the water for 20 minutes when he panicked and went under. He died after being under the water for just three minutes.

“He had been to that quarry with friends once before but didn’t even know he was going on the day he died.”

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Dylan in his school uniform

After Dylan’s death, Rebecca made it her mission to teach young children about the dangers of cold water shock and rip currents.

She said: “I spoke in hundreds of schools across the country from Tyne and wear, to Swansea and Scotland.

“The impact was amazing. The kids really listened and wanted to learn so I taught myself everything to know about cold water shock, rip currents, and open water swimming.

“I never knew about this so I couldn’t teach Dylan. He knew about stranger danger, dangers or drink and drugs, road safety. But after losing my son that’s the first time I knew about cold water shock. 

“The last adverts for it were in the 70’s, 1978. I was born in 1980 so I didn’t know. 

“I don’t want to discourage kids from swimming in quarries, rivers and lakes just to do it safely. It’s a skill set like learning to drive. You wouldn’t be learning to drive on a race course.” 

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The petition

“I want education about swimming to be as hard hitting as stranger danger, stop, look, listen and stop, drop and roll.

“There are double the amount of water fatalities to fire fatalities.

“Rip currents are hard to see, it’s all about how you react.

“The difference between laying on your back for 15 seconds and panicking is a life. Or going into the water feet first to acclimatise to the cold.”

Dylan was at the end of year eight when he drowned and had been awarded Athlete of the Year two years in a row at his high school.

Lancashire Fire & Rescue have praised Rebecca’s work, citing they have seen a reduction in water rescues as a result of the awareness created.

Rebecca received a British Empire Medal from the Queen in 2019 for her efforts.

Speaking about her beloved son, Rebecca added: “Dylan was so helpful and caring, he loved being there for other people. 

“One thing I really miss about him is the hugs, he used to hold onto me so tight.

Rebecca’s UK Government and Parliament petition currently sits at almost 4,000 signatures but will need 10,000 for the government to respond.

Parliament require that petitions reach 100,000 signatures to be considered for debate.