A couple who lost their son eight years ago this month is supporting The Royal Life Saving Society UK’s (RLSS UK) annual Don’t Drink and Drown campaign. The campaign aims to encourage those who have been drinking to be responsible for their friends after a night out, be a mate, and ensure they return home safely.

Don’t Drink and Drown was launched following multiple tragic and high-profile student drownings in 2014. It aims to ensure that people remain safe around water after a night out. In a sample of UK accidental drowning cases analysed by RLSS UK, figures revealed that 81% of those aged 16-25 who drowned under the influence of alcohol or drugs, weren’t with friends at the time of drowning . 

Support for the initiative comes from Margaret and Duncan Spiers after their son Christopher, aged 28, tragically lost his life after returning alone from a night out in Glasgow. On 29 January 2016, Christopher, who was believed to be under the influence of alcohol, was walking near to the River Clyde in stormy weather when he slipped into the water and was swept down the river. Despite several rescue attempts, Christopher couldn’t be saved and drowned.

Speaking about the RLSS UK campaign, Duncan said: “We are happy to support such an important campaign. It is vital people don’t walk home near water after a night out, as there are so many dangers. We are pleased to work with the Royal Life Saving Society UK to raise awareness of its lifesaving work and I know we have its support which means so much.”

After losing their son to drowning in 2016, Margaret and Duncan founded Christopher’s Saving Lives Campaign in his memory and have since dedicated their lives to promoting water safety and awareness of the dangers of outdoors. The couple, who also sit on the Scottish Parliament Community Safety Committee as Water Safety Ambassadors, have successfully fought to have ropes attached to the lifebuoys at the Clyde since the incident and continue to do work within the local community to help prevent more tragic drowning accidents.

Duncan added: “We didn’t think of the dangers and risks associated with water until it happened to Christopher, and this is why we launched Christopher’s Saving Lives campaign. All Margaret and I want to do is save lives, we don’t want anyone to go through what we have – it’s been horrendous but we do this for him, in his name. We already know some of the ropes installed onto life buoys have helped to rescue a number of people, which is a privilege to know.”

Margaret added: “Christopher was a happy go lucky person with a big heart, he loved to help others and was so caring. We feel very lucky to have had him as a son and he lives on in our hearts.”

Lee Heard, Charity Director at RLSS UK, said: “As we mark the eighth anniversary of Christopher’s tragic death in the River Clyde, the work we carry out at RLSS UK continues to raise awareness of these devastating incidents, along with providing the public with vital water safety advice that could help save lives.

“Sadly, Christopher isn’t the only to have lost his life under these terrible circumstances. Our Don’t Drink and Drown campaign was launched following various instances where young people’s nights out have sadly not ended the way they had planned. We have seen cases of young people walking home after a night out, and for various reasons getting too close to the edge and ending up in the water – which is why this campaign seeks to encourage friends to Be A Mate and take responsibility for one another.

“We’d like to thank both Duncan and Margaret Spiers for their continued support for our Don’t Drink and Drown campaign, and for their help in raising awareness on this key issue in Christopher’s memory. We’d also like to praise their ongoing efforts to promote water safety education as we work to prevent any more lives from being lost to drowning.”

More about the Don't Drink and Drown Campaign

[1]   Royal Life Saving Society UK (RLSS UK)– Detailed analysis of 16 cases of accidental drowning amongst those aged 16-25 years.  Data sourced from UK Water Incident Research Hub (WIRH) August 2022.