New campaign launched to cut drowning tragedies in Norfolk

Whitlingham Broad

Whitlingham Broad - Credit:

A new campaign is being launched in Norfolk to try to cut the risk of people drowning on the county's waterways.

Scene of double drowning at St Andrew's Broad, Thorpe Marshes.Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Scene of double drowning at St Andrew's Broad, Thorpe Marshes.Picture: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

The Norfolk Drowning Prevention Forum is to be launched on Monday at Whitlingham Country Park where exercises will take place with water rescue and dive teams carrying out a simulated rescue.

The Forum is made up from a variety of agencies with water responsibilities including: HM Coastguard, Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service, the RNLI, The Broads Authority, Royal Life Saving Society, Norfolk Constabulary, The Mineral Products Association and Norfolk County Council.

It is one of the first in England and is aligned to the National Water Safety Forum and the UK Drowning Prevention Strategy 2016-26 which aims to reduce the number of accidental drowning fatalities by 50pc by 2020.

Norfolk Fire & Rescue Service's Head of Community Safety, Stuart Horth said of the initiative: 'We don't wish to prevent people using our waterways but we are urging them to be aware of the risks and use them safely and responsibly.

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'Many people enjoy the water but not all locations are safe to do so and in Norfolk we have tragically seen people drown in disused quarries, lakes, rivers and the sea and often this could have been prevented if people were aware of the risks and how to enjoy the water safely. More people die drowning in open water than as a result of accidental fires.'

The launch follows a number of deaths from drowning in the county at St Andrew's Broad, Whitlingham Broad and Bawsey Pits.

Last year teenagers Stella Kambi and Bonheur Musungay died after getting into difficulty at St Andrew's Broad and in 2008 15-year-old Zabiullah Assadi died in Little Broad, Whitlingham, while on holiday with his family. At Bawsey Pits in King's Lynn Ryan Pettengell, 41, of King's Lynn, and Umar Balogun, 16, from London died in 2013 as a result of drowning.

Norfolk County Council's, Chairman of Communities, Margaret Dewsbury added: 'Around 400 people die drowning in open water every year as a result of an accident in or around water.

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'The Forum is an effective way for the Norfolk Fire & Rescue Service to bring together all the relevant agencies to share important advice and best practice allowing the fire service to advise the public effectively.'

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