My heart aches.
My heart is heavy with sadness for the losses around our coastline this summer, and particularly this week.
What can we do?
Now is not the time for the benefit of hindsight.
Now is the time to embrace foresight.
Crucially, no-one who puts themselves unwittingly in a place of danger can have the knowledge of the extent of that danger before an accident happens. This is why we need to take on the duty of holding much more awareness of our own frailty, our own vulnerability. We must take responsibility for our own safety in a sensible, measured, thoughtful way. We must Respect the Water.
Don’t just read the words, Respect the Water; act on them, believe in them, live them.
Spread the word.
Share what you know about the inherent risks in water, not just at the coast, but in all leisure areas.
This is not being a killjoy; this is having a sensible and healthy Respect for the Water.
My drowning prevention support work continues under the marvellous umbrella of the collaborative organisations who are working so very hard to prevent loss of life through drowning. I cannot praise highly enough the efforts of the RNLI, the RLSS, CFOA, CMA and all the other partners/contributing organisations who are working with the newly formed National Water Safety Forum. And I applaud overseas organisations such as the Drowning Support Network who disseminate the information even further.
Why do you think I do this? Why am I writing these hectoring words? Why do I feel so passionate about this issue? The primary reason is to try to spare other families the absolute awfulness and physically gut-wrenching loss that we have experienced and lived through, that of losing a much loved and wonderful young man in the summer of 2005.
When we lose someone we love it affects an incredibly wide range of people: parents, siblings, aunts, uncles, partners, surviving children, cousins, peers, friends, teachers, employers, colleagues, tutors …. Each of us overlaps with so many other people in the tapestry of our lives.
Every individual will be affected in some way or another and have to assimilate the grief and loss associated with the death.
I am impotent in this fight except through contributing the power of my words: but my words are not empty. They are fuelled and guided in an unerring faith that I am doing the right thing by continuing to share my grief publicly. I totally support and applaud the preventive measures that include the raising of awareness of the dangers … particularly for young people; particularly for people in high spirits who have had a few drinks and think they are invincible.
The RLSS also has a strong message: Don’t drink and drown … it’s a hard hitting, tough message, but take it in.
I loathe the expression in the media when they report that someone was ‘pulled from the water’ …. But do you know what? Those words have a huge meaning. They mean that the water claimed that person’s life. They mean we must Respect the Water. We must respect its power, its unpredictability, and its strength. We must Respect the Water’s ability to overcome us as much as we respect its ability to sustain us as in the water we drink.
Everything I write is in honour of the memory of James, whose life should not have been lost, indeed would not have been lost if only … If only …. If only …
I prefer not to dwell on retrospective regret but of course it galls me to this day, eleven years on, that James’ accident happened in an instant and in that instant, all our lives were irrevocably changed forever.
Please everyone, enjoy the sunshine this Bank Holiday and the remainder of the summer … enjoy visiting places where water is a feature, but above all, Respect the Water.
Look out for yourselves and for each other.
Be aware of the dangers … not afraid of them … but aware. Take care of yourself and those around you. Know your limits.
Only by all of us doing so, can we reduce the incidence of these appalling accidents and personal tragedies that have a far-reaching effect on us all.
Please share the link to this post if you are minded to; thus spreading your Respect for the Water even further. Thank you.