Seven families who have worked tirelessly to spread the message about drowning prevention after losing or almost losing a loved one have been honoured by the Royal Life Saving Society UK (RLSS UK).

Among them is Jackie Roberts whose 20-year-old daughter Megan drowned in the River Ouse in York earlier this year while on a night out with friends.

The families of two teenagers, David Cullen, from Leeds, and Richard Fellows, from Redditch, who lost their lives while swimming in a lake and a river have also been recognised.

Along with those of Dylan Ramsay, who drowned in a Lancashire quarry and toddler Jack Herd from Barrow in Furness, who died after falling into a garden pond.


The families of two young children Jayden Beavan, from Salisbury and Rory Forbes, from Aberdeenshire, who almost drowned after falling into swimming pools have also received awards.

The RLSS UK has presented the families with Friends of the Society certificates in recognition of the support they have given. It is the first time such awards have been made.

They were invited to receive their certificates at the charity’s prestigious annual Presentation of Honours ceremony at London’s Guildhall on Saturday, October 4.

One of Britain’s most successful swimmers, Mark Foster, was guest of honour at the event.

Each of the families has supported the charity in a variety of ways, such as helping to raise the profile of its annual Drowning Prevention Week campaign and speaking to schoolchildren about the dangers of open water.

Megan Roberts’ mother Jackie joined the charity on a successful visit to Westminster earlier this year which saw 41 MPs sign a pledge to support the delivery of water safety education to under 18-year-olds.

Speaking about her award she said: “I was really thrilled and surprised to receive it.

“I didn’t expect anything.

“I wanted to support RLSS UK after the death of my daughter Megan.

“It’s my way of keeping her memory alive and doing something positive to try and prevent anyone else having to go through the same thing.

“The work the charity does is fantastic and they’ve been very supportive of me.”

David Cullen’s step-mother Amanda Ibbotson added: “It’s nice to be recognised, although we don’t expect anything for what we do.

“We would do it anyway. We do it for David and for other families who have lost children through drowning.

“At the moment there’s not enough education in schools about water safety.”

Commenting on the awards RLSS UK President Peter Moyes said: “We work with a number of special families who have lost someone or nearly lost someone to drowning and the help they give in spreading our message is vital.

“We have come to know and work with them through the most tragic of circumstances but the families we recognised at our annual Honours ceremony have all used their most unimaginable of experiences to help us in our work to raise awareness and educate to reduce the number of people that lose their lives to drowning each year. From fundraising to holding events, giving assemblies in schools and fronting media campaigns, they have all showed great courage in sharing their stories to help save lives.

“We cannot express how grateful we are to all of these families and as a small gesture to show our thanks, we were to present each of them with a Friends of the Society award.”

Almost 700 RLSS UK members were also recognised at the event for their service and dedication to the charity. People were honoured with awards ranging from those given after four years continuous service up to those who were recognised for 50 years or more.

The full list of the families awarded Friends of the Society Certificates is as follows:

The families of:

David Cullen from Leeds who drowned in 2005 in Waterloo Lake in Roundhay Park after getting into difficulty while swimming with friends.

Megan Roberts who drowned in the River Ouse in York in January while on a night out with friends.

Richard Fellows who lost his life in March this year while swimming in part of the River Arrow in Redditch, Worcestershire.

Dylan Ramsay – who lost his life in Hill Top Quarry near Chorley in Lancashire in 2011.

Jayden Beavan, from Salisbury, who was left severely brain damaged after falling into a swimming pool.

Jack Herd – from Stank in Barrow in Furness. The toddler drowned after falling into a pond at his home.

Rory Forbes, from Aberdeenshire, whose life was saved by his mother after he fell into a swimming pool while on holiday in Florida.