THE MUM of a student who drowned in the River Severn spoke candidly about the importance of water safety at the meeting of Bromsgrove District Council on Wednesday.
The parents of 18-year-old Thomas Jones, Vicki and Ian, have thrown their support behind West Mercia Search and Rescue’s (WMSR) ‘Home and Dry’ campaign, following their son’s tragic death last September.
Speaking at the meeting, Vicki said: “For days we prayed the river didn’t hold the key.
“Tom was fitter and stronger than he had ever been before and was a good, confident swimmer.
“Had he got into difficulty, we thought, he would surely be able to pull himself to safety.
“We knew nothing about the devastating effects of cold water shock or the deceptively strong undercurrent.
“Tom went off to University of Worcester with a list of dos and don’ts – but we never told him to stay away from the water.”
The Home and Dry campaign aims to educate people on how to avoid falling into water, what to do if they do and how to help someone else if they are drowning.
According to WMSR, in just one year across Worcestershire, Shropshire and Herefordshire – 77 people drowned while out walking or running, 18 men drowned after drinking on a night out and 11 people drowned while fishing.
Vicki added: “Knowing this terrible tragedy could and should have been avoided is what we’re trying to work around.
“It is our mission to support WMSR’s campaign, raise awareness of water safety and back the installation of easy to operate, life-saving equipment by rivers, canals and waterways.
“We want to help families avoid what we are going through.”
District councillors presented a bouquet of flowers to Vicki, before confirming they would make a donation to WMSR which is voluntary-run and relies on donations.
Visit westmerciasar.org.uk/homeanddry for more information.