THE FAMILY of a teenage boy who drowned in a borough river returned to his school to talk pupils about water safety.
Relatives of Richard Fellows, who died after getting into difficulty in the River Arrow near the Five Tunnels in March, spoke to students at Trinity High School.
The 15-year-old’s family have teamed up with the Royal Life Saving Society as part of Drowning Prevention Week (June 21 to 29) which aims to cut down on the hundreds of deaths caused by accidental drowning.
This year they are targeting 11 to 15-year-olds and boys in particular after more than 30 people lost their lives last summer.
Richard’s dad, also called 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.
“When he left that day everything was fine, we certainly would never have believed what we got. 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.”
His brother-in-law, Paul Ashton, added: “We need to use what has happened and talk to local schools and tell the children about water safety issues.
“Richard was a strong swimmer, so we need to highlight the dangers young people might not be aware of.
“Trinity was his school, so it only seems right to start there. It’s about getting that message across, to say this is what is safe.
“It’s not about telling the children what they can’t do, it’s telling them what they can do. What the town has to offer instead.
“RLSS do some brilliant work and they have been fantastic at supporting the family.”
As part of the campaign a new short film has been produced by the charity to help drive the message home to young people.
Di Steer, Royal Life Saving Society UK chief executive, said young people often think they are immortal and take unnecessary risks.
“We want to make them aware of dangers they may not have thought of and stop them from making blind decisions that could be life changing or even life ending.
“We urge as many people as possible to share our messages and get involved in Drowning Prevention Week in any way they can.”
Visit www.rlss.org.uk for more information.