National Water Safety Forum



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NWSF Newsletter - July 2022

Message from the Chair

July is upon us and with it comes warmer weather, the end of exams for some, schools breaking up and the holiday season is fully underway.

Because of the aforementioned all occurring simultaneously, July has also consistently been a peak month for water rescues and fatalities in the UK, so it is imperative we do all we can, collectively and collaboratively, to reduce these incidents.

The newsletter is a special edition – focusing on two main ways to address the above issue. Firstly, July 25th is the second-ever World Drowning Prevention Day (WDPD). Click here to find out more about the day and ways in which you can join in. Secondly, the National Water Safety Forum (NWSF) will be launching our ‘Respect The Water’ campaign for WDPD, which includes key messages and materials for everyone to use and share.

World Drowning Prevention Day is really a call to action, and if all our members did just one thing or supported the NWSF Respect The Water campaign it would be phenomenal and raise the profile of this important community safety issue.

Other ideas you may want to explore within your local areas:

I have issued a challenge to my organisation: to paint a pebble in honour of World Drowning Prevention Day and then place it at a waterside location; the only stipulation is to use #RespectTheWater on it. It will be great if we can get schools and local clubs engaged to spread the message to younger people.

I am also aware that many places will be seeking to go blue for WDPD. Whether it involves making a local landmark turn blue, dying your hair, using blue zinc suncream or even wearing a blue morph suit, we look forward to seeing your pictures on social media, so please share!

Finally, I wish you all a safe and happy summer, and that you all get a chance to relax and enjoy a holiday or getaway with your family or friends.

Until next time

Dawn Whittaker

Chair of NWSF


Respect The Water Campaign Brief

The UK’s National Water Safety Forum is coming together to launch its first ever campaign, Respect The Water, in response the World Health Organisation (WHO) call to ‘do one thing’ to prevent drowning ahead of the second ever United Nations (UN) World Drowning Prevention Day on Monday 25th July

The campaign sees over 50 UK organisations uniting for the first time to raise public awareness of what to do if you see someone struggling in the water during the summer, covering both inland and coastal areas. The key messages will be;

  • Call 999 Fire & rescue for inland waters or coastguard at the coast.
  • Tell the person to float on their back
  • Throw them something that floats

As part of this lifesaving campaign we are releasing a new & impactful water safety advert which will be shown on ITV on World Drowning Prevention Day, together with targeted advertising in high drowning areas using catch up TV, outdoor posters and social media. There will also be a significant PR push to secure media coverage during the campaign to amplify these important message to the public at the height of summer.  


How to get involved in the campaign

  • Support the campaign and key messages which will be available on a new website soon.
  • Come along to our live briefing webinar on July 18th at 1pm. (To join please click here).


What else is happening across the UK for World Drowning Prevention day?

Blackpool Tower, The Kelpies, Falkirk Wheel, Renfrew Town Hall, Royal Hospital for Children and the QUEH (Glasgow), Ness Bridge, Millennium Bridge (Tyne & Wear) will be hopefully lighting up blue!

If you know of any local landmarks turning blue or any local events – please let us know via


Water Safety Scotland are hosting a national water safety open day for the public at the Helix,  Falkirk.

The open day will offer opportunities for the public to watch SFRS and Police rescue capabilities, as well as Newfoundland rescue dogs in action and other demonstrations.

A fun family-friendly programme of activities is also included.

More information is available here.


Water Safety Wales member organisations have a number of different activities planned for WDPD, including Blue Zinc sun cream for RNLI lifeguards as a talking point on beaches.

As a collective, the main focus is on a media and PR day at Llandegfed Reservoir, a Dwr Cymru Welsh Water site as well as support to the Respect The Water campaign via out of home advertising in high risk areas in in Pembrokeshire,  Gwynedd (TBC) and Conwy.


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NWSF Newsletter - May 2022

Message from the Chair

As I write this message, the first of our annual calendar of water safety campaigns for 2022 has just taken place Calendar | National Water Safety Forum.

The National Fire Chief’s Council has been running the #BeWaterAware campaign for several years now. Fire and Rescue Services around the UK, together with partners held events and shared water safety messages. The toolkit is available to download here all year with free to use resources.

You will also see from the calendar that the Royal Life Saving Society’s annual Drowning Prevention Week awareness campaign occurs in June. Also the second World Drowning Prevention Day looms on 25th July. I am very much looking forward to seeing what our members and all water safety advocates are planning to highlight water safety, including the mental health and physical benefits of enjoying the water safely.

Colleagues in the NWSF have been busy and we have some exciting news (below) about the appointment of a marketing company to help us promote #RespectTheWater as our overarching branding and water safety campaign. Water Safety Scotland recently held a symposium to highlight the works and initiatives in Scotland, and Water Safety Wales are continuing with their work, including supporting the second petition hearing we mentioned in the last newsletter. 

Talking of public petitions, I was very proud to be invited as a guest to the Houses of Parliament by Rebecca Ramsey who was declared the winner of the petitioner of the year for her campaign to secure a class based lesson on water safety in schools. Discussions about this are ongoing with the Department of Education, but I know I speak for all members of NWSF when I congratulate Beckie for her tireless work on water safety through her campaign #DoingItForDylan and for her prestigious award.

This years data release is now published and the work on our WAID2 project continues. I am looking forward to the forthcoming demonstration of our new system, which will provide more dynamic information and a more accessible platform about water incidents and risks. This work is of vital importance to us all, as good quality data will help us target and shape of work to reduce risk and save more lives.

Finally, can I thank you all in advance for the support you will give to #RespectTheWater and our various campaigns this year – the only way to promote safety in water is through united messaging and collaboration.

Until next time

Dawn Whittaker

Chair of NWSF


2021 WAID Release

Public urged to take care near water as latest statistics show accidental drowning deaths increased again last year, with more dying inland than around the coast. 

  • There were 277 deaths in UK from accidental drownings in 2021 across inland and coastal locations. This is an increase of 23 from the previous year.
  • The accidental drownings form part of the total water-related fatalities in the UK – for 2021 this was 616, a decrease of 15 from the previous year.


Respect The Water

The National Water Safety Forum has appointed krow, part of The MISSION Group, to oversee the strategy, creative ideation and activation of its Respect the Water (RTW) initiative.

John Quarrey, CEO of krow Group, commented: “We’re thrilled about being appointed by the NWSF, and excited about working with the team to create new, disruptive ways of speaking to our audience to help save lives.”

krow secured the campaign in a competitive pitch run directly by the National Water Safety Forum (NWSF).

David Walker, Head of Road and Leisure at RoSPA, said: “We are incredibly excited to work with krow Group on what will be a new phase for RTW and drowning prevention in the UK.”

Tragically, on average, around 400 people drown in the UK every year; because of this, one of NWSF’s principal aims is to reduce accidental drowning fatalities in the UK by 50% by 2026. Current drowning figures show a clear gender divide, with men accounting for the vast majority of those who die. Therefore the campaign is primarily aimed at men, but the safety advice is just as relevant for anyone who finds themselves in difficulty in open water, both at the coast or inland.

The RTW campaign was first established by the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) and has now grown into a national brand for water safety and drowning prevention campaigns through the NWSF, bringing together all strands of water safety across the UK, in a bid to help reduce the number of accidental drownings.


Drowning Prevention Week (18 – 25 June)

Drowning Prevention Week is just around the corner and we must continue to roll up our sleeves to address the current upward trend of accidental drowning in the UK.

In a recent RLSS UK survey we found that around two-thirds of UK adults have never had any formal training or education in water safety. Drowning Prevention Week (DPW) is the next opportunity to engage our communities in effective water safety advice.

All of the information for this yearscampaign can be found at

There are posters and social media graphics available in both English and Welsh, plus a range of materials to help positively engage communities in water safety training. NEW animation that will help young children understand how to go from being fearful of the water to being water proficient is coming soon.

Here’s a reminder of how you can get involved:

  • Get Digital - digitally sharing the messages about the water safety code. Use your social media and other digital channels to positively engage your community.
  • Run Drowning Prevention Week activities - do you have connections with community leisure centres, pool, swim schools or clubs? Guides are available to run water safety training during water based activities.
  • Lobby for education in schools - this year, following expansive work with a variety of water safety partners, in addition to usual education materials - thematic lessons are now available for those aged 5 -11, supplementing our existing variety of school resources across the age groups. Can you share with or deliver education in schools?


Beckie Ramsay - petition of the year

Congratulations to North West Water Safety petitioner Beckie Ramsay who won the Petition Campaign of the Year Award at the Your UK Parliament Awards in an event held in the Speakers State Rooms in the Palace of Westminster. This recognition follows her campaigning on the issue of water safety.

Beckie, from Preston, started the petition toincrease curriculum content about water safety as part of swimming lessons” after her son Dylan drowned in 2011 following difficulty while swimming in a disused quarry with friends. The petition received more than 108,000 signatures.

Since Dylans death, Beckie has worked with the police and sector bodies such as the National Water Safety Forum and the Royal National Lifeboat Institution to raise awareness of the risks of open water. She has also spoken about water safety to over 180,000 children in schools, and was awarded a British Empire Medal (BEM) in 2019 for services to the Prevention of Water Related Accidents.

Through tireless campaigning in the eleven years since the tragic death of her beloved son Dylan, Beckie has educated hundreds of thousands of young people about the dangers of open water. She has built support from across the water safety sector for changes to our education system which could save other families from suffering similar tragedy.



  • Current Vacancies – NWSF Marketing and Communications Specialist
  • July 25 is World Drowning Prevention Day. This annual global advocacy event, declared by UN General Assembly Resolution, serves to highlight the tragic and profound impact of drowning on families and communities and offer life-saving solutions to prevent it. An estimated 236,000 people drown every year, and drowning is among the ten leading causes of death for children aged 5-14 years. More than 90% of drowning deaths occur in rivers, lakes, wells, domestic water storage vessels and swimming pools in low- and middle-income countries, with children and adolescents in rural areas disproportionately affected.



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Press Release

Public urged to Respect The Water as latest statistics show accidental drowning deaths increased again last year, with more dying at inland water than around the coast.


There were 277 deaths in the UK from accidental drownings in 2021 across inland and coastal locations. This is an increase of 23 from the previous year. The accidental drownings form part of the total water-related fatalities in the UK – for 2021 the total number of deaths in water was 616, a decrease of 15 from the previous year.

The statistics and figures in the report are from the Water Incident Database (WAID), which is maintained by the National Water Safety Forum (NWSF), and the key accidental drowning death insights are as follows:

• Inland open waters, such as rivers, canals, lakes, reservoirs and quarries continue to be the leading
locations with 62 per cent of deaths (N=168).
• Males continue to over represent with 83 per cent of deaths (N=230).
• 40 per cent people had no intention to enter the water, such as those walking, with causes
including slips, trips and falls, being cut off by the tide, or swept in by waves (N= 107).

Following this concerning increase in accidental water-related deaths last year, the National Water Safety Forum (NWSF) are reminding people of the following lifesaving advice to help people enjoy our waterways and coastlines, particularly as warmer weather arrives, but water temperatures
remain dangerously cold.

  • If you get into trouble in the water, Float to Live.
  • Lean back and use your arms and legs to help you float, then get control of your breathing before calling for help or swimming to safety.
  • If you see someone else in trouble in the water, call 999 or 112. If you are at the coast ask for the coastguard, if you are inland, ask for the fire service.

The collaborating members of the NWSF, come from a wide range of sectors including sport governing bodies, rescue services, charities, regulators, navigation and harbour authorities, local government, utilities and those representing quarry operators. Later this summer NWSF will be
launching its new #RespectTheWater campaign ahead of UN World Drowning Prevention Day on July 25
th. The campaign will be promoted nationally to raise awareness of key safety advice and support the Forum’s mission to reduce drowning.

Dawn Whittaker, CEO East Sussex Fire Rescue Service & NWSF Chair said:

“The pandemic continued to present considerable challenges at our coastal and inland waterways last year as more people had staycations. The #RespectTheWater campaign is designed to help prevent further deaths and injuries in water.

We urge the public to understand the dangers, to learn the importance of knowing how to float to live, and to call 999 if others are in trouble and if there is a water related emergency.

We have seen increased numbers participating in water sports and water-based activities and
consequently a rise of the number of incidents associated with activities such as Stand-up Paddle boarding and Open Water Swimming. We want people to enjoy the water safely, so we will continue to focus on guidance, education and awareness for the public.

We will continue to work together to reduce deaths caused by drowning and water related injuries in the UK, and endeavour to reach our collective goal of halving accidental drownings in the UK by 2026. The global water safety community is onboard with a UN resolution recognising the scale and burden of drowning, calling for urgent international action.”

To view and download the WAID 2021 report visit:

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March newsletter from the National Water Safety Forum

Message from the Chair

As we start to see the signs of spring, with warmer weather, bulbs emerging and lambs being born, I am sure all our spirits will be lifted by the thought of a new season ahead.

It has been a busy winter period for the NWSF co-ordinating and advisory groups as work continues on the WAID2 project; improving our system and data, supporting petitions raised about water safety issues, preparing campaigns for 2022 and continuing discussions on a variety of focus areas to deliver the forums priorities.

2022 feels like a really important year for Water Safety and before we know it the annual programme of drowning prevention campaigns will be underway, supported by our overarching ‘Respect the Water’ branding.

We will also be thinking about 25th July and the opportunities that World Drowning Prevention Day brings to support education and engagement about water safety. We would love to hear what you have planned so everyone working in water safety and drowning prevention makes the most of this annual event. Please send your plans, ideas or questions to

NWSF co-ordinating group have supported evidence sessions arranged by both the Welsh Assembly and Central Government petitions committees. You will be aware that petitions are often started by members of the public who wish to draw attention to issues they are concerned about and if they secure enough signatures then they will be considered for response or debate by the formal petitions committees. Usually these committees hold evidence gathering sessions prior to the public debate which facilitates both the petitioner and subject matter experts to provide evidence or answer questions in advance of the public debate. I am pleased to tell you that members of the co-ordinating committee have been invited to contribute to these evidence sessions.

Enjoy reading our March newsletter.

Until next time,

Dawn Whittaker

Chair of the National Water Safety Forum



Her Majesty’s Coastguard celebrates turning 200 this year

On 15th January 1822, HM Coastguard was formed and although much has changed since the early beginnings, its mission has always remained the same – to save lives along our coasts and out at sea.

As one of the UK’s four emergency services, HM Coastguard’s services are available 24/7 to respond to those in distress.

Today, there are:

  • About 3500 highly trained coastguard rescue officers ready to respond at a moment's notice.
  • Technologically advanced operations centres where rescue response is planned and coordinated
  • A fleet of some of the most advanced search and rescue helicopters in the world, capable of responding to emergencies in the most challenging conditions
  • Fixed wing aircraft to support search and rescue and to spot and respond to pollution incidents
  • Remotely piloted air systems to support searches and counter pollution activities.

The 200th anniversary weekend itself was a huge success with well-wishes and celebrations across all four nations. We especially appreciated the happy birthday messages from our friends within the National Water Safety Forum! Throwlines, which form part of the lifesaving kit used by coastguard teams, were cast into the seas around England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland in honour of the special birthday milestone.

You may have even seen some of the features and stories for yourself on the likes of the BBC, ITV and Sky with the celebration being shared across radio, print and on TV all over the UK!

Although January marked the official milestone, HM Coastguard will be recognising all the immense contributions made by everyone connected to it, both past and present, throughout the year. Just some of these include museum exhibitions, where members of the public can learn more about HM Coastguard’s unique history, as well as a special souvenir magazine.

Special souvenir magazine



Two petitions initiated by Leeanne Bartley from Ruthin, North Wales have triggered water safety debates in the Welsh and UK parliaments.

Leeanne, whose son Mark Allen drowned after jumping into a reservoir in 2018, aged 18, launched the petitions under #MarkAllensLaw, calling for throwline stations at all open water sites.

The Welsh petition received more than 11,000 signatures and the UK-wide one received more than 103,000 signatures, both enough to trigger debates.

An evidence gathering debate was held by the Welsh Government’s Petitions Committee on 10th January, where members of Water Safety Wales and utility companies who manage reservoirs spoke. A recording of the session is here.

The UK Government’s Petitions Committee debated Leeanne’s petition on 24th January, where a number of MPs spoke in support. A recording of the session is here.

Both Jack Sargeant MS, Chair of the Welsh Government Petitions Committee, and Kemi Badenoch UK Minister of State at the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities provided responses and agreed to follow up on various matters raised.

Leeanne said: ‘We are so incredibly pleased and proud to have achieved the targets needed on both the Welsh and UK Government petitions. It was an extremely tough and at times highly emotional six months, but we got there in the end through sheer hard work and determination to bring about a positive change in loving memory of our beautiful Mark. We could not have achieved this without the incredible support from the British public and we are so very thankful to each and every one of you. Please continue to walk beside us as we continue in our mission to make our open waterways safer places to enjoy for everyone #MarkAllensLaw.


Drowning Prevention Week (18th – 25th June)– bigger and better than ever 

Thanks to RLSS UKs incredible supporters and partners, in 2021 Drowning Prevention Week achieved:

  • A worldwide reach of 134 million through PR and Social Media
  • Delivery of education in 1,653 Schools, reaching in excess of 682,286 children

Drowning is preventable and it takes a collective effort, across multiple sectors - including education, leisure, the water safety sector and the public sector to continue the long term efforts to raise awareness and embed practical skills. 

Our goal is to raise awareness in the UK and Irish population, increasing resonance so that we can encourage more families to engage in practical swimming and lifesaving skills, and to enjoy a lifetime of fun in the water.

This year there is an exciting opportunity to reach more people as schools and leisure are getting back to pre-COVID operations and can hopefully play a critical role in reaching their own engaged audience.

RLSS UK has been caring for families since 1891 and you are invited and encouraged to get involved to help everyone across the UK and Ireland enjoy water safely.

Ways to get involved

  • Get Digital - digitally sharing our key water safety messaging, based around the water safety code. Use your social media and other digital channels to positively engage in your community.
  • Run Drowning Prevention Week activities - do you have connections with community leisure centres, pool, swim schools or clubs? We are firming up our guide for a variety of activities in an aquatic setting.
  • Education in schools - this year, following expansive work with a variety of water safety partners, we’ll be making thematic lessons available for those aged 5 -11, supplementing our existing variety of school resources, across the age groups. Can you share with or deliver education in schools?

Materials for this year’s Drowning Prevention Week will be available by 1st April 2022, to get direct access, sign up now.

Sign up to Drowning Prevention Week

For more information on Drowning Prevention Week click the button below.

Learn more about Drowning Prevention Week


New WAID Technical Project Manager

January saw RoSPA welcome the arrival Andy Wysocki, the new WAID Technical Project Manager.

Before joining the team, he worked for Zurich Insurance as Project Manager – leading on efforts to ‘right-size’ the environments used to manage the firm’s Life Protection Platform. 

Previously, his main background has been in the energy industry highlights, of which include implementing the UK’s first automated energy deal capture system back in 2001 and helping set-up and grow the IT function at Bristol Energy.

His focus will be on the delivery of the new WAID (Water Incident Database) platform – a real enabler for reducing the number of drownings and water-related incidents across the UK.  

We look forward to updating you on the project as it progresses.


#RespectTheWater campaign update

Following a competitive tender, the forum’s communication & marketing group are delighted to announce we’re in the process of appointing a specialist agency to support us in the following areas;

  • Developing a shared five year NWSF communication roadmap with a rolling two-year campaign planner to continue improving how we coordinate and compliment members existing water safety campaigns
  • Design and launch a new public facing #RespectTheWater coalition campaign. It will be available this summer for all members to support & use free resources to amplify vital water safety messages 

More information will be shared soon but if you have any questions please contact


Other dates/Information for your diary

  • NFCC: Be Water Aware week: 25th April – 1st May
  • Publication of annual report and 2021 WAID data: May 2022
  • RLSS UK: Sponge to Plunge. Cold Water Exposure 2-week Home Plan
  • RoSPA Scotland/ Water Safety Scotland online conference – 7th April
  • World Drowning Prevention Day – 25th July
  • DFT Maritime Safety Week – early July, date TBC

Read More >


HM Coastguard turns 200 tomorrow!

*News update from HM Coastguard*

HM Coastguard turns 200 tomorrow! Throughout this amazing milestone it will be recognising all the immense contributions made by people connected to HM Coastguard, both past and present.

The Coastguard was formed on 15th January 1822. From its earliest beginnings, launching rocket apparatus to ships in distress to today’s sophisticated search planning techniques, satellite services, modern rope and mud rescue techniques and state-of the art air assets, the Coastguard has come a long way. HM Coastguard has evolved but its mission has always remained the same – to save lives along our coasts and out at sea.

Today, around the UK’s coastline there are:

  • Over 3000 highly trained Coastguard Rescue volunteers ready to respond at a moment's notice.
  • Technologically advanced operations centres where rescue response is planned and coordinated.
  • A fleet of some of the most advanced search and rescue helicopters in the world, capable of responding to emergencies in the most challenging conditions
  • Fixed wing aircraft to support search and rescue and to spot and respond to pollution incidents
  • Remotely piloted air systems ready to be deployed to support searches and counter pollution activities

Most importantly, HM Coastguard is one of the UK’s 4 emergency services, available 24/7 to respond to those in distress at sea or around our coasts.

In a coastal emergency call 999 and ask for the Coastguard

#CG200 #999Coastguard



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