The Royal Life Saving Society UK (RLSS UK), the Drowning Prevention Charity, is re-launching its national campaign, Don’t Drink and Drown, warning York students to steer clear of walking by or entering water when under the influences of alcohol as they return back to university.

RLSS UK Ambassador, Jackie Roberts, tragically lost her 20-year-old student daughter Megan when she fell into the River Ouse in York, when walking home after a night out with friends from York St Johns University in January 2014. Megan was the first of five people to die in York’s rivers that year.

Since Megan’s death, her mother Jackie, from Wetherby, has supported the RLSS UK to raise awareness of the water safety and is leading the RLSS UK Don’t Drink and Drown campaign in York.

RLSS UK’s Don’t Drink and Drown campaign runs from 25 January to 31 January, warning drinkers, particularly students, to act responsibly near water after they have been drinking, and to make sure they and their friends avoid walking home near bodies of water. Research indicates that around a quarter of all adult drowning victims have alcohol in their bloodstream*.

Both the University of York and York St Johns University are working closely with the charity. They will be holding events and handing out wristbands and flyers to students throughout the week with support from the North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service and York Rescue Boat.

York students will be warned to steer clear of walking by or entering water when under the influence of alcohol at an awareness event on 29 January at 1pm at York City Rowing Club. The charity will be releasing 400 balloons over the River Ouse to signify the number of deaths by drowning in the UK each year. Members of the public are invited to attend. The event will be lead by Jackie Roberts following the second anniversary of the death of her daughter which will fall on the 23 January. 

Jackie Roberts and RLSS UK’s Community Drowning Prevention Co-ordinator for the area, Aaron Dhanda, will be joining the University of York Night Safe team on Wednesday 27 January, handing out bottles of water and making sure students are safe around the river.

A CPR lesson will also be delivered to both universities giving vital knowledge of what to do in an emergency situation and equipping them with the necessary skills to assist adults who have stopped breathing, are choking, or who are suffering from a heart attack. 

Alongside the activity within York, RLSS UK will be working with universities across the UK and will be a pushing awareness messages to students through social media, with the hashtag #DontDrinkandDrown. People will also be encouraged to share the charities latest hard-hitting film which can be found at

Peter Moyes, RLSS UK President said: “People die each year after entering the water with alcohol in their bloodstream, either deliberately or completely by accident. Around a third of all 18 to 21-year-old drowning victims have alcohol in their bloodstream*. Drinking near water can be dangerous and a deadly cocktail. Alcohol can seriously impede your ability to survive in water.

“At RLSS UK we work hard to inform and educate people of the dangers and advise the public to never go into water when you have been drinking and always take care and be aware if you are near water.

“When walking home from a night out, avoid routes that are alongside water, particularly in the darkness, and always stay with and look out for your friends.”

RLSS UK Ambassador, Jackie Roberts added: “January is the time when Megan died and is a particularly dangerous time as students come back to university following the Christmas break. This makes students extremely vulnerable especially when the rivers tend to be extremely high and the dark and cold make it much easier for accidents to happen.

“Since losing Megan to drowning I have been actively involved in drowning prevention work with RLSS UK. I fully support the RLSS UK’s campaign, Don’t Drink and Drown and hope that awareness events in York will make people aware of how dangerous of being near water when under the influence of alcohol – let’s avoid any more tragedies wherever possible.”

For more information on the RLSS UK Don’t Drink and Drown campaign click here.