Matthew Offord MP for Hendon, who spent his youth lifeguarding beaches in Cornwall, got back into his wet suit to learn essential lifesaving skills with the Royal Life Saving Society UK (RLSS UK), the Drowning Prevention Charity.                                                         

Matthew Offord MP, is a supporter of the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Water Safety and Drowning Prevention of which RLSS UK is the Secretariat. Matthew has been involved in the group since it was formed in October 2014 and is an advocate for supporting the wider communication of drowning prevention messages to help keep his constituents and the general public safe around water.

Matthew visited RLSS UK HQ on Monday 3 August to complete the Stillwater module of RLSS UK’s community lifesaving education programme, Survive & Save.

RLSS UK Director of Volunteer and Community Education, Mike Dunn said: “Survive & Save is the RLSS UK’s lifesaving awards programme for teens and adults (12years+). This award teaches lifesaving rescue, self-rescue, survival, lifesaving sport skills and develops swimming ability and fitness.”

Throughout the course Matthew was taught how to perform CPR, learnt about hazard awareness and safety around open water, specialising in rivers, estuaries, quarry pools, canals and flood waters.

In the afternoon RLSS UK and Matthew headed to the open water at Ragley Hall, Warwickshire where they put their new skills into action including rescue techniques such as throwing, reaching and wading and important self rescue and survival skills.

Matthew Offord MP said: “I had a very informative day at RLSS UK learning water safety and lifesaving skills. I believe it is essential that people learn such skills to prevent drownings and help save lives.

“As a teenager, I qualified as a Beach Lifeguard and worked on the beaches in Cornwall. I am often asked how many people I saved from drowning. It is hard to say because some of those I pulled out of the water had other health problems such as a stroke or heart attack but what they all had in common is that they intended to be in the water swimming.

“However, many people who drown away from beaches are not in the water intentionally but end up falling there for a variety of reasons. Consequently, I believe everyone should know how to assist someone who ends up struggling in water. The RLSS UK can help with training and I would encourage everyone to take a RLSS UK course to learn these essential skills and how to stay safe around water.

“If everyone learns the skills I have learnt, we will save lives.”

RLSS UK Chief Executive, Di Steer, added: “The number of accidental drowning incidences has, over the last few years, reached a plateau of around 400. There is no quick fix to get this number down further. We can’t do it alone. We need everyone’s help to raise awareness about the reality of accidental drowning, and to get water safety at the forefront of people’s minds.

“Matthew will be working with us to develop lifesaving clubs within his area and to educate the community in water safety education.”

This also comes after RLSS UK announced their new Open Water Festival – Ragley Crawl taking place on Saturday 26 September.