Charity founded in memory of tragic teenager unveils new safety measures for open water spots in Rotherham

NEW measures to help save lives at notorious open water spots in Rotherham have been unveiled thanks to the work of a charity founded in memory of a tragic teenager.

Sixteen-year-old Sam Haycock’s death at Ulley Reservoir in May 2021 led his parents Simon and Gaynor to found Sam’s Army Mission, which is campaigning for improved safety measures at lakes, reservoirs and waterways.

Simon, who gives talks to primary and secondary school students about the dangers of open water, said five new throwline stations had now been funded by the charity — one at Thrybergh Country Park, two at Rother Valley Country Park and two at Ulley.

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The throwline boxes and rescue poles are bright yellow to make them stand out against the background of vegetation.

Simon, of East Dene, said he was keen to see more throwline stations installed sooner rather than later, adding: “I’m conscious that there’s money sat in our account that’s not saving lives so I’m trying to set up meetings for more places to accept throwlines.

“I’ve had companies asking to sponsor a throwline board, too, so we can get them out there.”

Simon said he was holding meetings with the owner of one privately-owned lake in the borough which he knew was a magnet for illegal swimming, with three sites identified as hotspots.

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“In summer, the fire brigade is being called there all the time as there are kids there,” he said.

“It’s private land, not council-owned, but we are in touch with the landowner.”

Simon said he was keen to see developers of new housing estates be required to install throwline stations where their sites have lakes or ponds.

A petition submitted prompted a bill currently going through parliament which would create a statutory duty for this.

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“Hopefully, it will come to fruition,” Simon said. “I think if housing companies are building all these estates with a lake or pond they should put a throwline board on there, too.”

Sam’s Army Mission has also received £560 of funding from Rotherham Round Table for special backpacks containing portable throwlines, first aid kits and heat blankets, which can be carried by staff and volunteers at country parks.

Sam’s Army members will be attending several fund-raising events this summer, with details to follow, and their own fun day will return to Clifton Park on May 27.

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