On a sunny day in July 2015, popular teenager Cameron Gosling left home to hang out with friends as he had done countless times before. He was a strong swimmer and thought nothing of jumping from a flat rock into the River Wear in Bishop Auckland, County Durham.
But the cold water caused the 14-year-old to suffer a shock reaction and he started to struggle in the water.
He surfaced once calling for help and his friends tried desperately to save him, getting themselves into trouble with their efforts, but, after a major search, divers found his body seven hours later.
His heartbroken mother Fiona, 39, said: “My phone went and it was a text from my youngest son saying ‘Cameron has jumped into the river and hasn’t come back up, we can’t find him.’
“I just started driving like a maniac to get there, screaming at people to get out of the way. I didn’t know how to get to where they were and ended up parking miles away. It was horrific, just standing there not knowing what to do.”
Friends and family rallied around waiting for news. Fiona said: “I was sat in my conservatory and there was this heavy downpour of rain and it just hit me. I thought oh my God he’s gone.”
Fiona says Cameron’s death has left a huge hole in the lives of his family and friends: “He’s there in your head when you go to bed and he’s there in your head when you wake up.
“It’s the little things that set you off. The other day I’d made dinner and put it all out and I stood back and thought, something is wrong here, what have I done wrong? And then I realised I’d put a plate out for Cameron.
“I have had to take on a lead role to keep everyone else right. I’ve got three other children; you don’t really get to take time to grieve yourself. I have my moments. It’s like how many showers will I have today. It’s easier to cry in the shower.”
Fiona now works with RLSS UK and campaigns for water safety, urging all young people to understand the very real dangers that cold water creates.
She explains: “Kids are drawn to water. There’s no point telling them not to go in, you’re crazy if you think they are going to listen to you. I just want to tell them if you’re going to go, get in gradually, acclimatise yourself to the water and you’ll reduce the risk of cold water shock. I just want to tell them to be careful.”