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A growing network of agencies are continuing to drive a campaign to ensure communities across West Mercia, are safe near the water, and get themselves Home and Dry,

The Home and Dry Network chaired by the West Mercia Police and Crime Commissioner has grown from strength to strength, since it first began just under a year ago.

It is backed by Kirsty Walsh who lost her husband Shane to drowning in Shrewsbury and Vicki and Ian Jones who lost their son, Tom, to drowning in Worcester.

Agencies represented include West Mercia Police, West Mercia Search and Rescue, the RNLI, RLSS UK, Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service, Hereford and Worcester Fire and Rescue Service, The Samaritans, The Canal and River Trust, Severn Area Rescue Association, the national Water Search and Rescue Team, The British Red Cross, Street Pastors, Kickstart Academy, Team Shrewsbury along with representatives from Local Authorities and Community Safety Partnerships across Herefordshire, Worcestershire, Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin.

At a meeting last week progress was made on the next steps of the Home and Dry campaign focusing on education and physical prevention. The agencies will continue to work to get key messages into schools, and youth groups and through universities, whilst looking to make physical improvements such as the installation of throwline boards and improvements to CCTV.

Police and Crime Commissioner John Campion said “There have been a number of tragedies across the West Mercia area so it’s important we do all we can to educate people, and equip our communities to keep themselves safe. Through the Home and Dry network we are making progress but there is always more we can do. By bringing together a number of key professionals and agencies, we have a powerful voice in ensuring, we can make our communities safer. “

Water safety ambassador Kirsty Walsh said “I am delighted to see how far Home and Dry campaign has come, since I initially launched it with West Mercia Search and Rescue over a year ago, in memory of my husband Shane. I am overwhelmed to think that over 6000 people have taken the free online water course, and still keen to further pursue CCTV, as a resource to be used in locating missing people, as well as improved physical prevention across towns and cities.

“I am grateful to Tom’s parents, Vicki and Ian, and the rest of the family for backing the campaign to further its reach in spreading awareness of dangers of water. I know all agencies involved are working tirelessly to try and prevent further accidental drownings and keep families together for longer. I am proud of the Home and Dry campaign and hope it will be some comfort for my children when they grow to see what an impact their father’s death has had on so many individuals.”

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Issued: Tuesday 27th August 2019