Members of South Wales Fire and Rescue Service demonstrated water safety techniques at Senedd event

Members of South Wales Fire and Rescue Service demonstrated water safety techniques at Senedd event

Members of South Wales Fire and Rescue Service demonstrated water safety techniques at Senedd event

 In light of the shocking statistic that an average of 45 people drown in Wales every year, the Welsh Government has pledged its support to a vision of a Wales without drowning with the announcement of a funding package for Water Safety Wales – a collaboration of partner organisations with an interest in water safety and drowning prevention.

At the event entitled ‘A Wales without drowning: Our joint vision’ held on 8th May at the Senedd, guests were invited to hear from speakers including Huw Irranca-Davies, Cabinet Secretary for Climate Change and Rural Affairs, bereaved mother Leeanne Barclay, who lost her 18-year-old son Mark to drowning, and other members of the organisation committed to making Wales’s waterways safe for everyone.

The SWFRS drowning prevention team was thanked for their attendance and work on the day, demonstrating the use of life-saving throwlines near the water’s edge of Cardiff Bay. Rachael Baralos, SWFRS Road and Water Safety Community Practitioner, led the demonstration, teaching Member of the Senedd John Griffiths how to correctly throw the weighted bag containing a 20-metre retrieval line.


Rachael commented:

“South Wales Fire and Rescue Service attend a lot of water rescue incidents, so it’s an important part of our role to educate people how to use equipment such as the throwlines.

“Most people who get into difficulties don’t intend to enter the water, so it’s important to raise awareness in these types of settings.

After Mark’s death, his mother Leeanne vowed to help prevent other families suffering the same heartbreak as hers, campaigning tirelessly to improve water safety in Wales.

Despite the best efforts of his friends, Mark drowned as a result of getting into difficulties after entering a freezing reservoir in June 2018 – a tragedy Leeanne believes could have been avoided had throwlines or other emergency measures been available.

Her Senedd petition for ‘Mark Allen’s Law’ amassed over 11,000 signatures, increased awareness of the dangers of drowning, and has promoted water safety across the country. It has been instrumental in providing the catalyst for change and the installation of a range of measures around Welsh waterways.

As a partner of the Water Safety Wales organisation, SWFRS plays a pivotal role in educating and provide water safety awareness to the communities it serves by implementing recommendations in Wales’s Drowning Prevention Strategy 2020-2026. The Service is working closely with the RNLI and the Government’s department for Climate Change and Rural Affairs and hopes to see an increase in safety near the water.

SWFRS Head of Community Safety, Bleddyn Jones, said:

“Today is about highlighting the work we do with our partner agencies and the Welsh government to prevent drowning, by encouraging and educating people to enjoy outdoor spaces in Wales safely.

“SWFRS is responsible for rescue around inland bodies of water, so it’s important to educate the public about water-related risks and hazards.

“Events such as these enable our personnel to teach them techniques such as ‘float to live’ and the use of simple rescue equipment that will help us make effective rescues in a timely fashion and reduce risk within our communities”.