The family of Hattersley teenager Jack Pullen have shared their heart-breaking story as part of a new campaign to prevent accidental drownings in open water.
Former Longdendale High School pupil Jack, who was 16 years old, sadly drowned in July 2016 in the River Etherow near Hyde.
Now, two members of his family - his sister Fallon and uncle Chris - have taken part in a short film to support Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service's campaign to help keep people safe around open water and stop others from experiencing the same heartache as them.
The campaign comes as figures reveal that 147 people accidentally drowned in open water in England last year.
Since June 2016, GMFRS firefighters have been called to 31 fatal water incidents. Sadly, many of those who drowned were young men who got into difficulty after jumping into open water on a hot day to cool off over the summer months, however, these incidents can happen at any time.
Chris Jordan, Jack's uncle, set up the Jack Pullen Foundation to help raise awareness of the dangers of open water.
Jack's 16-year-old sister Fallon has also talked with the fire service about how they lost Jack and the life-changing impact it has had on their family.
Chris and other members of Jack's family will be joining local firefighters to put up banners close to the area of water where Jack drowned as part of the Water Safety Day of Action.
It's taking place on Friday (31 July) which will see firefighters from across GMFRS join together with Greater Manchester Police, United Utilities and other local partners to help raise awareness of the dangers of open water. Some family members who have lost loved ones to drowning will also be involved in the day.
Deputy Mayor of Greater Manchester for Policing, Crime and Fire, Bev Hughes, said: “We are pleased to launch our water safety campaign in Greater Manchester and are really grateful to family members and friends who have lost loved ones for coming forward to help us spread the important message of staying out of open water and helping to save lives.
“We know that sharing personal stories is a very difficult and brave thing to do, though it really does help to show the impact which devastating tragedies, such as losing a child to drowning, has on families and how this kind of incident changes so many lives forever.”
GMFRS Assistant Chief Fire Officer Leon Parkes said: “Cold Water Shock affects even the strongest of swimmers and can kill you in just 60 seconds. You also never know what is lurking beneath the surface – people have drowned after getting tangled up in undergrowth and other things hiding in the water.
“We don’t want to stop people having fun, however, safety is key as we continue with our mission to remind young people and their parents or carers of the dangers associated with going into open water, especially during the summer months as we spend more time outdoors.
“We are aware of incidents during recent hot spells involving people jumping into open water, such as Salford Quays. I can’t overestimate the dangers of this which is why we are absolutely committed to supporting the Water Safety Day of Action – when our firefighters will do whatever it takes to get these important safety messages across to people.”
Superintendent Chris Bridge, of Greater Manchester Police, said: “We want people to enjoy their summer, but we are also urging people to recognise the risks and dangers, and to stay safe when around open water. Please do not be tempted to enter reservoirs, lakes, rivers and other types of open water. It may look appealing, especially on a hot day, but even the most confident swimmers can get into trouble, despite the water appearing to be calm and safe.
“Every summer we are called to tragic incidents where people have sadly lost their lives after entering open water and we witness the devastating impact this has on their family, friends and the local community. I really do hope that people take on board the message from ourselves and the families who have suffered the devastating outcome they have experienced, and recognise the importance of staying out of open water and the dangers it presents.”
The dedicated water safety campaign will include lots of targeted social media activity, sharing the videos of family members and friends, and new banners being put up in areas where young people have drowned or tend to visit with their friends.
Follow campaign activity from July 27 on GMFRS’ social media channels: Twitter @manchesterfire, Instagram: manchesterfire, and Facebook: GMFRS. The hashtags #WaterSafety and #DrowningPrevention will be used during the campaign.
Watch Jack Pullen's sister Fallon (pictured left) and his uncle Chris speak in the film at the top of the page.