The UK’s Drowning Prevention Charity has this week launched a hard-hitting short film to mark the start of its annual campaign, Drowning Prevention Week.

‘Beneath the Surface – the Families’ Stories’ features people from across the UK who have lost someone to drowning and have shared their tragic experiences.

The film aims to raise awareness of the issue of drowning and to encourage donations to back the campaign, which runs from June 20 – 28 this year.

Drowning Prevention Week is the Royal Life Saving Society UK’s (RLSS UK) flagship campaign which strives to help cut down the hundreds of deaths caused by accidental drowning across the UK every year. Latest figures released last week show 338 people lost their lives to drowning in 2014 – many of these deaths could have been preventable.

And, for 2015, RLSS UK is adding to its focus to show the aftermath and effects on families who have lost those close to them.

RLSS UK ambassador, Jackie Roberts, lost her 20-year-old daughter Megan after she fell into the river Ouse in York in January 2014. Her story features in the film.

She said: “Since losing Megan to drowning I’ve been actively involved in drowning prevention work, and working with the RLSS UK in the making of this film is something I am proud to be part of.  I fully support RLSS UK and drowning prevention week and I hope that the film goes a long way in raising awareness about the dangers and the devastation that drowning leaves in its wake. Please watch and share as widely as possible.

The families of Richard ‘Porky’ Fellows and David Cullen, who both tragically drowned at the age of just 15-years-old, have also thrown their support behind Drowning Prevention Week and the charity’s work by sharing their stories.

Richard Fellows drowned on March 16 2014 when he got into difficulties after swimming in a river pool that forms part of the River Arrow in Redditch, Worcestershire.

Richard’s dad, also Richard, said: “If Porky could warn people of the dangers, he would, which is why we want to raise awareness of our story through Drowning Prevention Week. If we can save just one life and prevent another family going through what we have it will be worth it.”

David Cullen tragically lost his life in Waterloo Lake, Roundhay Park, Leeds, on June 22, 2005 the 10th anniversary of his death falls within Drowning Prevention Week. His schoolmate, 15-year-old Christopher Copland, also drowned in the incident.

David’s sister Claire, 27, said: “We were all truly devastated the day David died. It is a day we will never forget. It was the hottest day of the year and it seemed like the longest day of our lives.

“We want to support Drowning Prevention Week as something has to be done to raise awareness of water safety and the dangers of lakes like the one in which we lost David.”

Other families included in the film are Olivia and Nigel Rowe from Wiltshire who lost their three-year-old Jack in 2014, Stephen Harris from Nuneaton who lost his 18-year-old son, Jay, after he drowned in a quarry in 2009, Lucy Herd whose son Jack drowned in 2010, he was just under two-years-old, and Sue Mitchell whose son Alex drowned in London’s Serpentine in 2014, he was 26-years-old.

RLSS UK’s Chief Executive, Di Steer, said: “Firstly we are extremely grateful to all of the brave families that had the strength to tell their stories. They are remarkable.

“We now hope that people will watch, listen and understand that such a tragedy could happen to anyone.

“We don’t, however, want to discourage people from enjoying water safely, in designated, lifeguarded environments. Water is fantastic fun, but can be deadly as we can so tragically see in our film.”

Each year, Drowning Prevention Week drives home water safety messages throughout a targeted week of activities, demonstrating how to stay safe and have fun near water. It also serves to raise money for the RLSS UK’s drowning prevention initiatives.

Last year, thousands of primary schools, leisure centres and community groups delivered water safety lessons or events across the UK.

And this year is bigger and better than ever.

Di added: “We urge as many people to get involved as possible, anything from sharing the film on social media to running a fundraising event, to maybe going into your child’s school with some of our resources, or visiting your local leisure centre to see what activities they are planning. Let’s help to reduce drowning together.”

RLSS UK Ambassador, Former Olympic swimmer, Mark Foster added: “The second most important thing after learning to swim, is to make sure you know what to do if someone gets into difficulties in the water, and that’s why I am delighted to be the RLSS UK ambassador to encourage everyone to participate in Drowning Prevention Week.”

To watch and share ‘Beneath the Surface – the Families’ Stories’ visit the RLSS UK YouTube channel

For more information on Drowning Prevention Week and how to get involved click here.