An RLSS UK lifesaving Trainer Assessor and lifeguard backed the charity’s national Don’t Drink and Drown campaign, urging its importance after his brother lost his life to drowning when he was just 19-years-old.

Douglas Thomas has been a member of the society since 1982 and has received a number of service medals, and he says the death of his brother Gordon in 1972 was the catalyst to his career in lifesaving.

Gordon lost his life after a night out drinking in Falmouth, Cornwall, with his fellow Navy comrades after returning from six months at sea. He and his friends were returning to their ship on two smaller boats when he is said to have challenged himself to swim between the boats.

But tragically Gordon, who had been drinking all evening and was in his full Navy uniform, never made the swim as he got disorientated and hypothermic in the cold water and drowned.

There was confusion amongst his friends, who were also drunk, and they returned to the ship. Gordon’s body was found in the harbour the next morning.

And now Douglas, who is a supervisor at Pentrehafod Community Pool in Swansea in addition to his full-time job working for the DVLA, said the Don’t Drink and Drown campaign is vital and could save lives.

The 55-year-old added: “My brother was only 19, the age of many young university students. He was drunk and did something stupid. He was a strong, capable and able swimmer but this did not save him.

“His death caused total devastation to our family. My parents never got over it – they were heartbroken.”

Douglas wants all young people to be aware of the dangers and never drink alcohol when near or in water.

“I sadly understand this issue on a personal level and think the campaign is so very important to get the messages to those young people and avoid anyone else losing a brother at such a young age, as I did.”