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North West Water Safety petitioner wins Petition Campaign of the Year Award

30 March 2022

North West Water Safety petitioner Beckie Ramsay has won the Petition Campaign of the Year Award at the Your UK Parliament Awards in an event held in the Speaker’s State Rooms in the Palace of Westminster.

This recognition follows her campaigning on the issue of water safety.

Beckie, from Preston, started the petition “Increase curriculum content about water safety as part of swimming lessons” after her son Dylan drowned in 2011 after getting into difficulty while swimming in a disused quarry with friends. The petition received more than 108,000 signatures.

In the more than ten years since Dylan’s death, Beckie has worked with the police and sector bodies such as the National Water Safety Forum and the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RLNI) to raise awareness of the risks of open water. She has also spoken about water safety to over 180,000 children in schools, and was awarded a British Empire Medal (BEM) in 2019 for ‘services to the Prevention of Water Related Accidents’.

Ahead of the petition being debated in Parliament, the Chair of the Petitions Committee, Catherine McKinnell MP invited Beckie and other families affected by drowning to share their experiences with her in a virtual roundtable. Catherine McKinnell also met virtually with representatives of the RNLI, Swimming Teachers Association, the Royal Life Saving Society and others to understand the wider context to the campaign and the work these bodies are doing to raise awareness.

Responding for the Government in the debate, the then-Minister for School Standards Nick Gibb MP agreed to meet with Beckie, Neil Parish MP, and stakeholders including the RNLI to discuss this issue and identify actions that could be taken to address their concerns. At this meeting, the Minister committed to establishing a water safety panel to look into how best to improve water safety education in England.

Petitions Committee Chair comments

Catherine McKinnell MP, Chair of the Petitions Committee said:

“Beckie’s campaign is a powerful demonstration of how petitions can raise awareness of issues that might not otherwise be heard in Parliament.

“Through her tireless campaigning in the eleven years since the tragic death of her beloved son Dylan, Beckie has educated hundreds of thousands of young people about the dangers of open water. She has built support from across the water safety sector for changes to our education system which could save other families from suffering similar tragedy.

“I have been profoundly moved by Beckie’s story and campaign, and congratulate her on this tremendous achievement.”

The Your UK Parliament Awards

The 5th annual Your UK Parliament Awards recognised individuals across the UK who have taken democratic action on the issues they care about. The Petition Campaign of the Year Award celebrates the passion and determination of campaigners who have used petitions to bring important issues to Parliament’s attention, and to improve things for others.

In addition to the Petitions Campaign of the Year Award, there are a further seven categories, which celebrate individuals, schools, and organisations who have made a difference in their communities and beyond.

Further information

Image: Lens Change/UK Parliament