National Water Safety Forum


March newsletter from the National Water Safety Forum


Message from the Chair

As we start to see the signs of spring, with warmer weather, bulbs emerging and lambs being born, I am sure all our spirits will be lifted by the thought of a new season ahead.

It has been a busy winter period for the NWSF co-ordinating and advisory groups as work continues on the WAID2 project; improving our system and data, supporting petitions raised about water safety issues, preparing campaigns for 2022 and continuing discussions on a variety of focus areas to deliver the forums priorities.

2022 feels like a really important year for Water Safety and before we know it the annual programme of drowning prevention campaigns will be underway, supported by our overarching ‘Respect the Water’ branding.

We will also be thinking about 25th July and the opportunities that World Drowning Prevention Day brings to support education and engagement about water safety. We would love to hear what you have planned so everyone working in water safety and drowning prevention makes the most of this annual event. Please send your plans, ideas or questions to

NWSF co-ordinating group have supported evidence sessions arranged by both the Welsh Assembly and Central Government petitions committees. You will be aware that petitions are often started by members of the public who wish to draw attention to issues they are concerned about and if they secure enough signatures then they will be considered for response or debate by the formal petitions committees. Usually these committees hold evidence gathering sessions prior to the public debate which facilitates both the petitioner and subject matter experts to provide evidence or answer questions in advance of the public debate. I am pleased to tell you that members of the co-ordinating committee have been invited to contribute to these evidence sessions.

Enjoy reading our March newsletter.

Until next time,

Dawn Whittaker

Chair of the National Water Safety Forum



Her Majesty’s Coastguard celebrates turning 200 this year

On 15th January 1822, HM Coastguard was formed and although much has changed since the early beginnings, its mission has always remained the same – to save lives along our coasts and out at sea.

As one of the UK’s four emergency services, HM Coastguard’s services are available 24/7 to respond to those in distress.

Today, there are:

  • About 3500 highly trained coastguard rescue officers ready to respond at a moment's notice.
  • Technologically advanced operations centres where rescue response is planned and coordinated
  • A fleet of some of the most advanced search and rescue helicopters in the world, capable of responding to emergencies in the most challenging conditions
  • Fixed wing aircraft to support search and rescue and to spot and respond to pollution incidents
  • Remotely piloted air systems to support searches and counter pollution activities.

The 200th anniversary weekend itself was a huge success with well-wishes and celebrations across all four nations. We especially appreciated the happy birthday messages from our friends within the National Water Safety Forum! Throwlines, which form part of the lifesaving kit used by coastguard teams, were cast into the seas around England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland in honour of the special birthday milestone.

You may have even seen some of the features and stories for yourself on the likes of the BBC, ITV and Sky with the celebration being shared across radio, print and on TV all over the UK!

Although January marked the official milestone, HM Coastguard will be recognising all the immense contributions made by everyone connected to it, both past and present, throughout the year. Just some of these include museum exhibitions, where members of the public can learn more about HM Coastguard’s unique history, as well as a special souvenir magazine.

Special souvenir magazine



Two petitions initiated by Leeanne Bartley from Ruthin, North Wales have triggered water safety debates in the Welsh and UK parliaments.

Leeanne, whose son Mark Allen drowned after jumping into a reservoir in 2018, aged 18, launched the petitions under #MarkAllensLaw, calling for throwline stations at all open water sites.

The Welsh petition received more than 11,000 signatures and the UK-wide one received more than 103,000 signatures, both enough to trigger debates.

An evidence gathering debate was held by the Welsh Government’s Petitions Committee on 10th January, where members of Water Safety Wales and utility companies who manage reservoirs spoke. A recording of the session is here.

The UK Government’s Petitions Committee debated Leeanne’s petition on 24th January, where a number of MPs spoke in support. A recording of the session is here.

Both Jack Sargeant MS, Chair of the Welsh Government Petitions Committee, and Kemi Badenoch UK Minister of State at the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities provided responses and agreed to follow up on various matters raised.

Leeanne said: ‘We are so incredibly pleased and proud to have achieved the targets needed on both the Welsh and UK Government petitions. It was an extremely tough and at times highly emotional six months, but we got there in the end through sheer hard work and determination to bring about a positive change in loving memory of our beautiful Mark. We could not have achieved this without the incredible support from the British public and we are so very thankful to each and every one of you. Please continue to walk beside us as we continue in our mission to make our open waterways safer places to enjoy for everyone #MarkAllensLaw.


Drowning Prevention Week (18th – 25th June)– bigger and better than ever 

Thanks to RLSS UKs incredible supporters and partners, in 2021 Drowning Prevention Week achieved:

  • A worldwide reach of 134 million through PR and Social Media
  • Delivery of education in 1,653 Schools, reaching in excess of 682,286 children

Drowning is preventable and it takes a collective effort, across multiple sectors - including education, leisure, the water safety sector and the public sector to continue the long term efforts to raise awareness and embed practical skills. 

Our goal is to raise awareness in the UK and Irish population, increasing resonance so that we can encourage more families to engage in practical swimming and lifesaving skills, and to enjoy a lifetime of fun in the water.

This year there is an exciting opportunity to reach more people as schools and leisure are getting back to pre-COVID operations and can hopefully play a critical role in reaching their own engaged audience.

RLSS UK has been caring for families since 1891 and you are invited and encouraged to get involved to help everyone across the UK and Ireland enjoy water safely.

Ways to get involved

  • Get Digital - digitally sharing our key water safety messaging, based around the water safety code. Use your social media and other digital channels to positively engage in your community.
  • Run Drowning Prevention Week activities - do you have connections with community leisure centres, pool, swim schools or clubs? We are firming up our guide for a variety of activities in an aquatic setting.
  • Education in schools - this year, following expansive work with a variety of water safety partners, we’ll be making thematic lessons available for those aged 5 -11, supplementing our existing variety of school resources, across the age groups. Can you share with or deliver education in schools?

Materials for this year’s Drowning Prevention Week will be available by 1st April 2022, to get direct access, sign up now.

Sign up to Drowning Prevention Week

For more information on Drowning Prevention Week click the button below.

Learn more about Drowning Prevention Week


New WAID Technical Project Manager

January saw RoSPA welcome the arrival Andy Wysocki, the new WAID Technical Project Manager.

Before joining the team, he worked for Zurich Insurance as Project Manager – leading on efforts to ‘right-size’ the environments used to manage the firm’s Life Protection Platform. 

Previously, his main background has been in the energy industry highlights, of which include implementing the UK’s first automated energy deal capture system back in 2001 and helping set-up and grow the IT function at Bristol Energy.

His focus will be on the delivery of the new WAID (Water Incident Database) platform – a real enabler for reducing the number of drownings and water-related incidents across the UK.  

We look forward to updating you on the project as it progresses.


#RespectTheWater campaign update

Following a competitive tender, the forum’s communication & marketing group are delighted to announce we’re in the process of appointing a specialist agency to support us in the following areas;

  • Developing a shared five year NWSF communication roadmap with a rolling two-year campaign planner to continue improving how we coordinate and compliment members existing water safety campaigns
  • Design and launch a new public facing #RespectTheWater coalition campaign. It will be available this summer for all members to support & use free resources to amplify vital water safety messages 

More information will be shared soon but if you have any questions please contact


Other dates/Information for your diary

  • NFCC: Be Water Aware week: 25th April – 1st May
  • Publication of annual report and 2021 WAID data: May 2022
  • RLSS UK: Sponge to Plunge. Cold Water Exposure 2-week Home Plan
  • RoSPA Scotland/ Water Safety Scotland online conference – 7th April
  • World Drowning Prevention Day – 25th July
  • DFT Maritime Safety Week – early July, date TBC

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