National household names and the families of a 24 and 20-year-old who both tragically drowned after a night out, have this year thrown their weight behind a major charity campaign which is set to reach more people than ever with its vital Don’t Drink and Drown message.

RLSS UK’s Don’t Drink and Drown campaign this year runs from 5 – 11 December, warning drinkers 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. Last year 20 per cent of all adult accidental drowning victims had alcohol in their bloodstream*.

Over the previous three years (2012-14) on average 38 per cent of 18 to 21-year-old accidental drowning victims had alcohol in their bloodstream. In 2015 this increased to 67 per cent*.

The families of Lee Brown and Megan Roberts are both showing their support for the campaign and the charity.

Lee Brown from Stockton tragically lost his life at the age of 24, after he went missing following a party on the Teesside Prince Boat in April 2015. Lee had got off the boat in Stockton and was last seen near the River Tees Watersports Centre. Sadly, His body was recovered two weeks later from the River Tees.

Lee’s mother, Violet, spoke out to back the campaign and said: “This campaign is vitally important to help raise awareness of the dangers of water – particularly for people enjoying themselves on a night out. You always think that things like this will happen to someone else. Lee was missing for 2 weeks and something inside me knew that he wasn’t ever going to come home. It is really important that when you are on a night out you make sure the people you are out with are safe. Please support this campaign and share the messages. It breaks my heart every single time my 6-year-old grandson asks where his Daddy is, so I want to help prevent it happening to another son, Dad or brother.

RLSS UK Ambassador, Jackie Roberts lost her 20-year-old student daughter Megan after she fell into the River Ouse in York when walking home after a night out in January 2014.

She said: “Since losing Megan to drowning I have been actively involved in drowning prevention and working with RLSS UK. I fully support the RLSS UK’s campaign, Don’t Drink and Drown and hope that everyone who’s out celebrating the festive period will take note of the campaign key messages – let’s avoid any more tragedies wherever possible.”

Alcohol education charity, Drinkaware, Canal and River Trust and charity Missing People are all supporting RLSS UK’s Don’t Drink and Drown campaign, warning UK party-goers to steer clear of walking by or entering water when under the influence of alcohol.

More universities, businesses, local authorities and local emergency services than ever are also getting involved and spreading the lifesaving messages.

More than thirty universities throughout the UK, including Oxford University, Brighton University, York universities and Sheffield University are backing the campaign and targeting their students with key water safety messages throughout the week. Launch events will also be held in Aberdeen, Durham, Cardiff, Bristol, Oxford, Plymouth, and Brighton on December 9 to target festive revellers on the run up to Christmas at this high risk time.

Di Steer, RLSS UK Chief Executive said: “People die each year after entering the water with alcohol in their bloodstream, either deliberately or completely by accident.

“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.

“We are proud that more organisations than ever are backing such an important campaign that saves lives.”

Ben Butler, Marketing and Communications Director at Drinkaware said:

“For many of us, the celebrations around the festive period will include drinking alcohol – perhaps a little bit more than we would at other times of the year. Alcohol upsets our sense of balance and co-ordination, slows down our reactions and impairs our vision and hearing, making us more prone to falls and more serious accidents.

“We want people to stay safe on a night out especially if they do choose to drink. Following simple tips like eating a meal before drinking and alternating alcoholic drinks with soft drinks or water can go some way to ensuring you get home safely from your Christmas party. If you’re out and about use Drinkaware’s free mobile app to track the alcohol you’re drinking. Plan your journey home while you’ve got a clear head and stick together with friends when leaving a venue ensuring nobody is left behind.”

The charity Missing People and Canal and River Trust first got involved with the campaign last year and is continuing to support.

Ross Miller, Missing People Director of Communications said: “All too often people – most often men – are reported missing and later found dead in water following a night out. As a charity we have seen how a night of fun can result in preventable, tragic consequences. We have supported families desperate for news of their missing loved ones only to hear the worst news possible too frequently.

“We don’t want any more families to experience this heartache and we are proud to be working alongside RLSS UK and their partners on this important campaign.”

Richard Parry, Canal and River Trust Chief Executive, added: “We all love being near the water and our 2,000 miles of inland waterways in England and Wales are more popular than ever. However, drinking too much alcohol near water is always a dangerous combination which is why we’re pleased to support the RLSS UK’s campaign to encourage people to make safe choices when near water.”
To watch and share the RLSS UK Don’t Drink and Drown film visit RLSS UK YouTube channel.
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