Building a safer
West Mercia

Home and Dry

The Home and Dry Campaign

The Police and Crime Commissioner and a range of other agencies, are uniting to drive a campaign to ensure people get home and dry.

In the last year 430 people drowned across England. Student Tom Jones tragically lost his life in Worcester during Fresher’s Week 2018 and Shane Walsh, a 29 year old father of two, tragically lost his life in Shrewsbury in 2017.

The Commissioner is working with Shane’s widow Kirsty Walsh and Tom’s parents, Ian and Vicki to raise awareness and prevent unnecessary water deaths. Other organisations involved in the multi-agency drive include West Mercia Police, West Mercia Search and Rescue, RNLI, RLSS UK, Hereford and Worcester Fire and Rescue Service. Shropshire Fire Service, the Canal and River Trust, the Samaritans, the Street Pastors and Worcester University.

The Home and Dry Network has worked collectively and extensively to tackle the very roots of the issue- improved education around water safety, physical prevention, work around the night time economy and mental health awareness.

Commissioner John Campion said “The awful loss of life, has shook our communities. We are taking a strong united approach, which draws upon the expertise of a number of agencies and builds upon the existing good work.

I look forward to driving this campaign forward. Together we want to reduce the number of deaths, ensure emergency and voluntary resources aren’t drawn to incidents that could have been prevented, and ultimately keep our communities safe.”

The Home and Dry Campaign was first launched in 2017 by West Mercia Search and Rescue, a volunteer led organisation who receive grant funding from the Police and Crime Commissioner. The campaign, backed by Water Safety Ambassador Kirsty Walsh, has continued to grow through the Home and Dry Network. It includes a free online water safety course, and an offline version for schools and colleges.

Take part in the course here.

The Home and Dry Network

The Home and Dry Network, chaired by the Police and Crime Commissioner was established, to drive this work forward. At the first meeting in August 2018, work began to collate existing work around water safety and build on best practice, look at ways to educate and inform communities, in order to keep them safe.

Four key strands for the campaign we’re identified: improved education around water safety, physical prevention, work around the night time economy and mental health awareness.

The Network has worked collectively to build a campaign, which focuses around these key areas and will continue over the coming months.

At an event held and Worcester University on 12th July 2019 each of the agencies were able to jointly promote water safety, unveil multi-agency promotional materials, hear first hand the experiences from the families directly affected by water deaths and continue to expand the network and the campaign.

The following partners are part of the campaign:

For more information:
For advice and to download the Home and Dry Water Safety Course:

For extensive advice and resources:

For extensive advice and resources:

For advice:


For advice on staying safe around water:


For advice about safety on our waterways:


For more information:


For more information:

For more information:

For more information or to be part of the network email [email protected]

Kirsty’s Story

Kirsty Walsh has pioneered the campaign following personal tragedy. Her husband, and father of her two children was just 29 when he died through drowning in the River Severn, following a night out in Shrewsbury. Shane was located by volunteers from WMSAR and recovered by West Mercia Police. Read her story below:

Kirsty met Shane Walsh, and three months later they were engaged. They happily married and went on two have Corey and Adalynn, their two children. Sadly Shane never got to see his daughter’s first birthday, or his son’s first day at school.

In 2017, Shane had been at a family party before continuing the night in bars in his home town of Shrewsbury. In the early hours of the morning, he was close to the River Severn which runs through the town. He stumbled over a low wall which rather than pushing him backwards, propelled him forward into the river.

Shane was missing for 3 days, the days which Kirsty described as the worst of her life. Volunteers from West Mercia Search and Rescue, meticulously searched for him before his body was recovered from the water.

Since Shane’s death, Kirsty has become an ambassador for water safety, working as part of West Mercia Search and Rescue, along with a number of other agencies.

Kirsty has helped to make the area close to Quantum Leap in Shrewsbury, where Shane fell, much safer through physical barriers, planting hedgerows and installing a throw line board in her husband’s memory which could be used if someone did get in to trouble.

Education has been a big focus for Kirsty and she is key in driving the Home and Dry campaign forward. Like many people, until Shane’s death she wasn’t aware of the dangers of cold water shock- this is a message she’s been keen to share since. Kirsty has been in to schools to send a powerful message about water safety, helped to develop an online water safety course and taken part in river patrols during busy evenings in Shrewsbury.

However for Kirsty it doesn’t stop there and she believes there is always more which can be done. Water related deaths aren’t just an issue in Shrewsbury but across the whole country. Through the Home and Dry Network, professionals across a number of key agencies have come together to share water safety advice and drive a campaign which tackles four key aspects- education, night time economy, physical prevention and mental health.

Shane’s death has had a huge impact on Kirsty, their children, their family, their friends and the wider community.

Kirsty is working hard to create a legacy for Shane, devoting her time and efforts to ensure that further tragedies can’t happen.

Education Campaign

Students are being encouraged to get Home and Dry, as a number of agencies unite as part of a continued campaign to improve education around water safety.

Professionals from Hereford and Worcester Fire Service, assisted by other members of the Police and Crime Commissioner’s Home and Dry Network including RLSS UK, West Mercia Local Policing Teams, West Mercia Search and Rescue and Worcester Street Pastors led a demonstration, showing how to perform a throwline rescue, ahead of a new throwline board, being installed in Worcester, in memory of student Tom Jones, who drowned last September.

This event marked the start of a series of events, targeting students across West Mercia. Throughout September 2019, representatives are visiting Shrewsbury College, Worcester University, the Heart of Worcestershire College, Telford College, Hereford College of Arts, Shrewsbury University Centre and Wolverhampton University’s Telford Campus, distributing materials and raising awareness.

Campaign Materials

The following materials are available to download:

Home and Dry Poster


Home and Dry leaflet

Social Media Graphic:

For hard copies of materials, or to request branded merchandise email [email protected]


The most up to date figures from the WAID (Water Incident Database) are as follows:

 430 people drowned across England in 2018, of these:

167 accidental (of which 52 were in a river)

18 natural causes

169 suspected or confirmed suicide (of which 48 were in a river)

7 suspected of confirmed crime

69 not recorded

The figures are broadly similar to the 2017 figures, in which 429 people drowned across England of these:

Of the 185 accidental and natural cause drownings: 159 were male and 26 were female (86%)


Those aged 25-29 were most likely to die by accidental drowning (11% of cases)- there were fewer deaths in children or elderly people.

Most accidental drownings happened in June, July and August ( 39%)

Most accidental drownings happened on a Saturday or Sunday (37%)

In 66 out of 185 (36%) cases the presence of drugs or alcohol was recorded.

In 73 out of 185 cases (40%) people were out walking or running when they drowned.

For the full figures click here.

Home and Dry News

For the latest updates on the campaign, click below. Follow the campaign on social media #HomeAndDry:

Protecting new students from water tragedy

Grieving parents back campaign to prevent student deaths

Home and Dry: Educating students about water safety

Growing Network to Ensure Communities Get Home and Dry

Professionals unite to prevent water deaths

Drowning prevention advice

Life saving throwlines installed near open waters

Drowning hotspots targeted in joint project

Agencies unite to call for no more water deaths

PCC backs water safety campaign to ensure people get Home and Dry



West Mercia PCC Events

« December 2020 » loading...

Sign up to our newsletter

Keep in touch! Interested in news from your community? Subscribe to stay up to date with your Police and Crime Commissioner!

Subscribe now

You can also read previous newsletters here »

Latest News & Media

View all news »

Sign Up To Our Newsletter

Keep in touch! Interested in news from your community? Subscribe to stay up to date with your Police and Crime Commissioner!

Subscribe now