The daughter of a man who tragically died from ‘secondary drowning’ has teamed up with the Royal Life Saving Society UK (RLSS UK) and spoken out for the first time to raise awareness of the issue.

Alan Gough, from Walsall, died at the wheel of his car in January this year, hours after apparently escaping unscathed when his canoe capsized in the Lake District. A post-mortem examination later revealed he died from ‘secondary drowning’ – a rare condition that can happen hours after breathing in water.

And now his daughter Sophie, 20, is highlighting what happened to her 57-year-old dad by running in Exeter’s Great West Run on October 18 when she hopes to raise as much money as possible for RLSS UK, the UK’s drowning prevention charity.

She said: “I am keen to raise as much awareness about secondary drowning as possible. I had never hear of it when dad died, I had no idea it existed. He didn’t even mean to be in the water.

“What I find hardest is this could have been prevented. If he had known to go and get checked this may never have happened and he could still be here.”

Alan was a canoeist, a strong swimmer and a qualified scuba diving instructor. He loved the outdoors and was well known in the community through his job as a chartered surveyor and secretary of Walsall Rotary Club.

RLSS UK Director of Lifesaving, Adrian Lole, said: “Mr Gough tragically died from what is often referred to as ‘secondary drowning’ – the effects of breathing in even the smallest amount of water which leads to drowning.

“He died after experiencing respiratory impairment resulting from his submersion in water. After falling in, a small amount of water entered his airway and, whilst the effect wasn’t immediate, the impact was catastrophic. Up until 2002 this used to be referred to as secondary drowning.

“Anyone who gets water in their airway should visit the hospital or their doctor to get checked out as soon as possible, even if there doesn’t appear to be a problem immediately.”

Sophie, who has just started her final year studying at Exeter University, added that her and her family, brother Thomas 22 and mother Trace, 52,wanted to take a tragedy and make a difference.

“I have never done anything this before, only short park runs so it will be quite a challenge but I wanted it to be worth people sponsoring me and they make take time to listen to why I am doing it.

“My family sand I urge people to educate themselves in water safety. Accidents can happen but don’t let my dad’s death be in vain – we don’t want another family to go through a tragedy such as ours.”

Adrian added that the drowning prevention charity worked hard to prevent drownings through raising awareness and water safety education, primarily educating around how to stay safe in and around water and what to do in an emergency.

“We appreciate and thank Sophie for raising funds for the charity and awareness around drowning, we also thank anyone who supports her by donating,” he said.

Read more from Sophie and sponsor her on her JustGiving page at