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New water safety pilot scheme teaches school children vital skills

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On Thursday 23 November, local Year 6 pupils from Northwick Manor Primary School attended a new water safety pilot scheme developed by the University of Worcester working in partnership with Hereford & Worcester Fire and Rescue Service (HWFRS) and the Royal Life Saving Society (RLSS).

The event, which took place in central Worcester, consisted of a combination of educational workshops at The Hive, live water rescue demonstrations on the river and hands-on exercises that aimed to teach the children how to stay safe around water as well as what happens in times of flooding.

Chief Fire Officer Nathan Travis said: "This new scheme aims to educate young people about the dangers of open water in an engaging and interactive manner. By teaching them these vital but simple skills, they will more likely be able to spot and keep away from possible dangers as well as have the knowledge of what to do if they come into difficulty.

"We hope that this educational event will be the first of many more."

Dr Cheryl Jones, Head of Geography and Archaeology at the University of Worcester, said: "The University is delighted to be a part of this inspirational project. The workshops were designed and delivered by key members of our Geography and Education departments who were able to involve the pupils in experiments and real-life scenarios aimed at ensuring they stay safe in flooding scenarios or other water emergencies. It is great to be able to make a difference in our local community in educating young people about the dangers and passing on some of our specialist knowledge, and we're looking forward to continuing our partnership with HWFRS and RLSS to deliver further life-saving events."

RLSS UK, the drowning prevention charity, West Midlands Regional Ambassador, Teresa Myatt said: "Around 400 people lose their lives to drowning each year, with thousands more suffering life-changing injuries through near-drowning experiences. Schemes like this play a vital role in educating youngsters on how to keep them and their friends safe around water, whatever time of year. If the children can take important lessons away from the session, to share with family and friends – so much the better for everyone!"

Mrs Phillipa Gilfillan, Year 5 teacher at Northwick Manor Primary School, said: "It was a wonderful experience for the children to see a real, live river rescue, and to understand clearly the dangers of the river and flood water. It is so important for our children living in Worcester with the river, the canal and our regular flooding issues, to learn about these dangers and what they can safely do if an emergency arises."

Charlotte, aged 9, a pupil at Northwick Manor Primary School, said: "I think it made me understand what the dangers are around water. I really enjoyed throwing the line to practise saving someone in the water. Now I'll know what to do!"

Schools are encouraged to apply for future events by emailing c.jones@worc.ac.uk

Further information on water safety can be found at www.hwfire.org.uk and www.rlss.org.ukEnds