The dangers of cold water shock are being spelt out to schoolchildren across County Durham by a victim’s mum.
Fourteen year old Cameron Gosling from Crook went swimming with friends in the River Wear near Bishop Auckland on 5 July last year.
However he didn’t acclimatise first and died as a result of cold water shock.
A year on from the tragedy, Cameron’s mum Fiona Gosling is going into schools close to where her son died to speak to pupils about what happened in a bid to educate them about the body’s short term involuntary response to sudden immersion in cold water.
Mrs Gosling is taking part in assemblies organised by Durham County Council’s Bishop Auckland and Barnard Castle One Point Service as part of Safe Durham Partnership’s Dying to be Cool campaign.
This aims to raise awareness of cold water shock among ten to sixteen year olds in the county, ahead of the summer when many teenagers will consider swimming in rivers and lakes.
Students are being shown a video featuring Mrs Gosling and Cameron’s friends at the spot where he died.
They are also getting to see equipment used by County Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Service (CDDFRS) in river rescues.
Mrs Gosling said: “It is a year since Cameron was taken from his family and friends and the pain we feel does not go away.
“He had just gone out to have a good time with his friends and was not aware of the dangers of getting into the water without preparing himself first.
“Hopefully in speaking to teenagers about the risks, we can prevent further loss of life and I am really pleased to be working with Durham County Council to get this important safety message across.”
Schools taking part in the assemblies are Bishop Barrington, King James I Academy, Parkside Academy, Wolsingham, Teesdale and Staindrop.
Cameron was a pupil at Parkside at Willington where he is remembered with a memorial garden and bench, with the latter set up with support from One Point’s Team Around the School.
After the assembly there, Mrs Gosling, Cameron’s friends at the school and staff laid flowers in the garden.
Sarah Robson, assistant headteacher at the academy, said: “The safety of our pupils is of the upmost importance to us at Parkside Academy.
“The Dying to be Cool campaign has highlighted the need for water safety education in Durham as over the last decade there have been several deaths of both children and adults in the Wear Valley area.
“The assembly has equipped our pupils with the knowledge and understanding of cold water shock and given them the skills to keep themselves safe over the upcoming summer holidays.
“We would like to thank Mrs Gosling and the team at Durham County Council for creating the Dying to be Cool campaign in Cameron’s memory and sharing their experiences and knowledge with our pupils.
“Cameron is still sadly missed by everyone at Parkside.”
The Safe Durham Partnership consists of the county council, CDDFRS, Durham Constabulary and other partners.
Cllr Joy Allen, the council’s cabinet member for safer communities, said: “We are grateful to the schools for allowing us to come in and spread this important safety message at such a crucial time of year, and to Fiona for her commitment to doing so much to spread the word.
“We know lakes and rivers may look appealing when the weather is warm but we want our teenagers to know the risks they pose.
“We hope these assemblies will help them stay safe.”
Stuart Errington, chief fire officer for CDDFRS, said: “The tragic deaths of Cameron Gosling and more recently 16-year-old Curtis Atherton at High Force last month, are
devastating reminders to us all of the importance of safety in the water.
“As the weather warms up more people may be tempted to go into rivers or lakes and we need to remind everyone of the dangers including cold water shock, strong currents, rocks and other hazards beneath the surface.”
Hard-hitting posters have been offered to the county’s 278 schools and academies as part of Dying to be Cool.
A campaign video has reached more than 241,000 people on the council’s Facebook – of whom more than 152,000 have viewed it – and been watched over 6,400 times on YouTube.
The council also held water safety sessions for children from eight primary schools as part of Dying to be Cool earlier this month.
The campaign also has the support of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, the RNLI and the Chief Fire Officers Association.