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

Sue Mitchell, from Harrogate, sadly lost her son, Alexander ‘Mitch’ Mitchell, after he tragically drowned on 6 April 2014 after swimming in the Serpentine in Hyde Park, London. Since Mitch’s death Sue has worked with the RLSS UK to raise awareness of the dangers of open water and raised money for the charity.

The second family to be awarded was Lucy Herd from Berkshire. Lucy lost her 23-month-old son, Jack, after he drowned in their garden pond in August 2010. Since losing Jack, Lucy set up Jack’s Rainbow, a charity to help bereaved families who have lost a child through a sudden death and supported RLSS UK by delivering water safety and drowning prevention messages and fronting media campaigns.

The RLSS UK has presented the families with Friends of the Society certificates in recognition of the support they have given. It is the second 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 17 October.

Former English competitive swimmer, Steve Perry, was guest of honour at the event.

Each of the families have supported the charity in a variety of ways, such as helping to raise the profile of its annual Drowning Prevention Week and Don’t Drink and Drown campaigns and speaking to school children about the dangers of open water, as well as featuring in a hard-hitting film by RLSS UK – Beneath the Surface – the Families’ Stories.

Lucy Herd said: “Since losing Jack, I have supported the RLSS UK to raise awareness of the dangers of water. I hope by sharing my story and working with the RLSS UK will reduce the number of people who lose their life to drowning. I am honoured to have been awarded with the Friends of the Society certificate. This means a lot to my family and I.”

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 shown 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 presented each of them with a Friends of the Society award.”

More than 150 RLSS UK members were also recognised at the event for their service and dedication to the charity and were joined by their family and friends. 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.