Legacy of Bottesford teenager sees thousands of children learn water safety

Euan Coulthard
Euan Coulthard
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In memory of Euan Coulthard, the Bottesford teenager who tragically drowned while at Durham University in January, his family and friends have worked with the Royal Life Saving Society UK to provide water safety education in schools.

Following 19-year-old Euan’s tragic death in the River Wear, his family asked for donations to be made to the RLSS UK.

Pupils from Our Lady and St Thomas Primary School, Willington with (l-r) Penney Wilkinson - RLSS UK Northumberland and Durham Branch Chair, Ken Crass - RLSS North East Regional Chair, Andrew Allison - Durham Fire and Rescue Service, Accident Prevention Manager, Kenny McDermid - RLSS UK North Drowning Prevention Coordinator and David Bullen - our Schools Aquatic Development Officer.

Pupils from Our Lady and St Thomas Primary School, Willington with (l-r) Penney Wilkinson - RLSS UK Northumberland and Durham Branch Chair, Ken Crass - RLSS North East Regional Chair, Andrew Allison - Durham Fire and Rescue Service, Accident Prevention Manager, Kenny McDermid - RLSS UK North Drowning Prevention Coordinator and David Bullen - our Schools Aquatic Development Officer.

With additional funding from the society itself, RLSS UK worked with Durham County Council and the County Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Service to provide water safety education to every school in County Durham, creating a lasting legacy to Euan.

Euan’s mother, Hester Coulthard, said of the project: “Always stay safe and respect the water at all times. Euan was a lovely, bright young man who had such a bright future, now gone from our family. I would hate this to happen to anyone or have their family go through what we have been going through.”

As part of the programme, which ran throughout June and July, 150 drowning prevention education packs were sent to schools across County Durham, providing learning resources to 37,500 pupils.

Information has also been made available via the council’s extranet system to all academies and council-run schools in the county. Schools were also offered the chance to attend an event day with those taking part having special assemblies and workshops for the pupils, including a demonstration of rescue equipment by the fire and rescue service. As well as this, more than 100 pupils also learned lifesaving skills at a special one-off session at Stanhope Open Air Swimming Pool.

The measures come in addition to the wider and ongoing work of the council’s Open Water Safety Group.

Kevin Lough, chair of the Open Water Safety Group, said: “We’re extremely grateful to Euan’s family and friends as well as the RLSS UK. An entire generation of County Durham youngsters will go on their summer holidays with extra knowledge regarding how to stay safe around the water.”

Di Steer, RLSS UK’s chief executive officer, said: “Tragically, around 400 people in the UK and Ireland drown every year, many of them children and young adults.

“We believe that Drowning Prevention and Water Safety education needs to start as early as possible and our schools education packs provide materials and resources to help deliver these fundamental lifesaving messages across to children and the community.”