England

Thomas Jones: Drowned student's family back safety campaign

Tom Jones Image copyright Family Handout
Image caption Tom Jones, 18, disappeared in his first week at the University of Worcester last year

The family of a student who drowned in a river have backed a water safety campaign.

Tom Jones, 18, disappeared in his first week at the University of Worcester, nine days before his body was recovered from the River Severn in September.

His parents have joined the Home and Dry safety drive, which highlights the dangers posed by rivers and lakes.

Ian Jones urged people to "stay well away" unless they were with a well-supervised organised group.

An inquest heard his son Tom apparently slipped and fell into the river in the early hours after a night out.

His mother, Vicki, from Bromsgrove, said: "Another university term dawns and we'll be upon freshers' week again.

"We can't change what's happened to us. But I think because we're actually going through this... we can give such a strong message to try and make sure that this doesn't happen to another family."

Mr Jones said: "You'll never fence a whole river off. But.... just a few more safety aspects, as in throw lines and more life aids would just be fantastic."

Image caption Parents Vicki and Ian Jones, pictured with the student's sister, Ellie, have been part of a water safety campaign

Organisations involved in Home and Dry include West Mercia Search & Rescue and the Samaritans.

The campaign includes an online course and water safety information.

In the past year 430 people drowned across England, West Mercia Police said.

Mr Jones said: "We've just got to try and get the education through the schools, through all sorts of different societies.

"Water looks fantastic (but) don't go anywhere near it, unless you're with an organised group and it's well supervised."

Image caption Kirsty Walsh, pictured with husband Shane, who drowned in 2017

Kirsty Walsh, whose husband, father-of-two Shane, 29, drowned in the Severn in 2017, is also backing the campaign.

Mrs Walsh, from Shrewsbury, said: "Myself, my children, our family are living with the consequences of Shane's death and that's a daily battle and a daily struggle."

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