Staffordshire waters see two more drown as Stoke City Council provides free water safety sessions for children

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Staffordshire Police have identified Carl Storer as the drowned victim at Chasewater Reservoir, just a week after another man drowned at Westport Lake.

Carl Storer (Pic: Staffordshire Police)

The 21-year-old had entered the water at Chasewater on Sunday to rescue a nine-year-old girl after seeing her in distress.

Alan Cooper, 79, from Burslem was the latest victim at Westport Lake, just a year after the tragic loss of 13-year-old schoolboy Ryan Evans in the same waters.

Stoke City Council, who manage Westport Lake in partnership with Staffordshire Wildlife Trust, have launched a campaign called Swim Safer in honour of Ryan’s death on his first anniversary.

The purpose of Swim Safer is to keep young people safe when swimming and is also being backed by Ryan’s father, Glynn Evans. The project will educate children on how to swim and keep safe in the water.

Glynn Evans said: “I would like to thank everybody for honouring the memory of my dear son, who tragically lost his life at the age of 13.

Ryan Evans

“Ryan got into difficulty swimming in the open water last year at Westport Lake. In light of this terrible event, the Swim Safer campaign has been launched and is aiming to help hundreds of children to take advantage of knowing the danger of open waters.

“If Swim Safer can save at least one child’s life and stops any other parents from getting that dreaded knock on the door like we did, then Ryan’s life was not lost in vain.”

The water safety campaign is the biggest of its kind seen in Stoke and it aims to provide over 900 free swimming lessons for non-swimmers between six and 14 years old and over 400 free water safety sessions for swimmers aged eight to 14.

Staffordshire representative, Sarah Rudy from the Canal and River Trust said: “This is a great initiative and anything that can be done to educate youngster on water safety and how to be safe around water can only be a positive thing.”

Sarah went on to explain that the Canal and River Trust do not advise using inland water as a way to cool down in hot weather stating: “It’s important that people, especially children and teenagers, are aware of the dangers of cooling off by going for a dip. The consequences can be devastating.

“Inland waterways, like canals, rivers and docks can look really inviting but you can’t tell what is below the surface.  The water is often murky and you won’t be able to see the depth or any obstacles in the water.

“We’re asking people to find another way to cool off this summer – have an ice cream, stay in the shade, go for a swim in your local pool.  Please don’t get in the water, it’s just not worth it.”

The Canal and River Trust isn’t the only group showing their support for the new water safety campaign.

Jo Henderson of The Inland Waterways Association stated: ““Water safety is something that is taken very seriously at The Inland Waterways Association (IWA) and any initiative that promotes swimming and water safety is seen as a positive step. We whole-heartedly support this campaign by Stoke-on-Trent City Council.”

When and where can you find these sessions and lessons?

The free learn to swim sessions will cover five days, from Monday to Friday, with each session lasting 30 minutes over the Summer holidays.

Lessons will take place at Fenton Manor Sports Complex and New Horizons Leisure Centre on the weeks starting July 22, 29, and August 5, 12, 19 and 25. To get a place for your child, make sure you book in advance.

The free water safety sessions will run from 4pm to 5pm on Sundays July 21 and 28, August 4, 11, 19 and 25, and September 1 at Fenton Manor Sports Complex. Each child can only attend one session and you have to book your place in advance.

You can find learn to swim resources in the reception areas of all six city council-run leisure centres.

Bookings for the sessions can now be made by emailing [email protected] or calling 01782 236210.

The phone line is open 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday – outside of these hours, please leave a voicemail and a member of staff will contact you on the next working day.

The sessions are allocated on a first-come, first-served basis and are expected to be very popular. 

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