A MULTI-AGENCY drive is working to tackle unnecessary water deaths in quarries, rivers and other watercourses across West Mercia.

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.

In July 2013, 17-year-old Russell O'Neill and 22-year-old Justas Juzenas died at Gullet Quarry near Ledbury within a week of each other.

In a bid to prevent further deaths, Police and crime commissioner John Campion and a range of other agencies are uniting to drive a campaign to ensure people get home and dry.

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 campaign 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 shaken 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.

Visit https://westmerciasar.org.uk/homeanddry/ for more information.