An entire generation of County Durham’s children is beginning the summer holidays with safety in mind, thanks to the friends and family of Euan Coulthard and the Royal Life Saving Society (RLSS) UK.

Following Euan’s tragic death in the River Wear, his family asked for donations to be made to the RLSS UK. With additional funding from the society itself, a lasting legacy to Euan has been created. With the funding provided and working together, the RLSS UK, Durham County Council and County Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Service have provided water safety education to every school in County Durham.

Euan’s mother, Hester Coulthard, said of the project: “Always stay safe and respect the water at all times. Euan was a lovely, bright young man who had such a bright future, now gone from our family. I would hate this to happen to anyone or have their family go through what we have been going through.”

As part of the programme, which ran throughout June and July, 150 drowning prevention education packs were sent to schools across County Durham which provide learning resources for 37,500 pupils. Information has also been made available via the council’s extranet system to all academies and council-run schools in the county. Schools were also offered the chance to attend an event day with those taking part having special assemblies and workshops for the pupils, including a demonstration of rescue equipment by the fire and rescue service. As well as this, more than 100 pupils also learned lifesaving skills at a special one-off session at Stanhope Open Air Swimming Pool.

The measures come in addition to the wider and ongoing work of Durham County Council’s Open Water Safety Group.

Kevin Lough, chair of the open water safety group, said: “We’re extremely grateful to Euan’s family and friends as well as the RLSS UK. An entire generation of County Durham youngsters will go on their summer holidays with extra knowledge regarding how to stay safe around the water.”

Di Steer, RLSS UK’s chief executive officer who is originally from County Durham, said: “Tragically, around 400 people in the UK and Ireland drown every year, many of them children and young adults.

“We believe that Drowning Prevention and Water Safety education needs to start as early as possible and our schools education packs provide materials and resources to help deliver these fundamental lifesaving messages across to children and the community.”