Finally I can say that my Dylan didn’t die in vain
Mum’s joy as she wins 12-year battle to get water safety lessons in schools
FOR campaigning mum Beckie Ramsay, learning that the dangers of openwater swimming are finally to be taught in schools was bittersweet.
Because while the news evoked painful memories of her son Dylan’s tragic death, after 12 years of tirelessly pushing for water safety to be on the curriculum the victory is a “dream come true”.
Former hairdresser Beckie said: “Now I can finally say Dylan didn’t die in vain.”
Strong swimmer Dylan, 13, went into cold water shock and drowned in three minutes while swimming in a disused quarry with pals in 2011.
To stop other kids from dying needlessly, Beckie has made ensuring they know the risks her “absolute focus”.
The 43-year-old said: “There’s not a minute since he’s passed that I haven’t wanted to find some positive from his death by saving others’ lives in his memory.
“He just went for a little bit of fun in the sunshine and it killed him. He was a confident swimmer, but had no idea he was putting his life at risk and died in just three minutes.”
Since Dylan died, his mum has visited 1,000 schools and given talks to 300,000 kids about water safety.
As well as working with police and the RNLI and setting up the Families Against Drowning Facebook page, in 2019 she was awarded the British Empire Medal for services to preventing waterrelated accidents.
In 2021 she set up the Doing it for Dylan foundation with former Olympic swimmer Sharron Davies as patron.
Their petition to get water safety on the school curriculum was named Petition Campaign of the Year.
Beckie – married to John, 52, and with kids Stephen, 23, Joshua, 21, and Annie,
16, also a water safety ambassador – said:
“At points, I genuinely never thought this day would come. I’ve dedicated my life for over 12 years to this moment.
“I’ve slept in my car outside schools and fire stations before giving talks because I couldn’t afford hotels. It’s been my absolute focus – it’s almost impossible to take in that this is real.”
Around 600 people a year drown in open water, according to the National Water Safety Organisation.
There’s not a minute since he passed I haven’t wanted to find some positive from his death
The new School Sport and Activity Action Plan says all primary school pupils should be taught water safety techniques in a pool, such as how to float, tread water, signal for help and exit from deep water, as well as about cold water shock, beach flags, and the dangers of rip currents. Beckie, who has received support from stars including Gordon Ramsay, Nick Knowles and Paralympic swimmer Stephanie Millward, said: “This news isn’t just amazing for me, it’s for the thousands of other families left with massive holes after losing a loved one, families who’ve worked tirelessly with me for this moment.”
Schools Minister Nick Gibb said in a letter to Beckie’s MP Sir Lindsay Hoyle: “The Department [for Education] welcomes the important contribution that organisations and campaigners such as Ms Ramsay make to raising awareness of water safety and the opportunities they provide to pupils to learn this vital life skill.”
Beckie, of Chorley, Lancs, added: “We’ve got this pledge in black and white now, there’s no way for them to back down. It can’t be a postcode lottery, it can’t be something that’s only taught in some places and to some children – drowning affects everyone; the water respects nobody.”
firstname.lastname@example.org Find out more information about Doing it for Dylan at doingitfordylan.org.uk