Published: 30th June 2014
Wetherby resident Jackie Roberts is still mourning the loss of her 20-year-old daughter, who was reported missing in January and found in the river near York two months later.
She is now putting her memories of former Wetherby High School student Megan into telling people how dangerous water can be, joining drowning prevention charity the Royal Life Saving Society (RLSS) in Westminster, where 41 MPs signed a pledge to support water safety education.
Mrs Roberts said: “It has been and still is the most devastating thing that can happen to a parent, but doing positive things helps me channel that energy into remembering Megan.
“From what happened to Megan and from other incidents, it has made me really aware of how lacking we are in that kind of education.
“The RLSS contacted me via the police to offer their support first of all, which they do for people who have lost someone in a drowning incident.
“They had the event going on in Westminster and asked if I would come down there and talk to MPs and ask them to support the RLSS in their campaign to get water safety education into schools to raise awareness of the dangers and keep young people safe.
“As and when they need a bit of back up it helps them to have someone on board who is a real person who has lost somebody. It gives them a bit of a voice.”
The RLSS itself thanked Mrs Roberts for her involvement with this campaign in particular, but also with their other initiatives.
UK chief executive Di Steer said: “The trip to Westminster was a huge success and we were so very grateful to Jackie for coming down to Parliament with us.
“It made all the difference that MPs had the opportunity to talk to Jackie and understand just what an impact drowning can have on a family.
“Jackie was extremely courageous throughout the day, discussing what happened to Megan and how it has affected her and her family, and we thank her for her support in our campaign to get water safety education on the national curriculum and therefore taught to all under 18-year-olds in the UK. We also look forward to continuing to work with Jackie moving forward.”
Mrs Roberts, along with the RLSS, was met at the Houses of Parliament by Elmet and Rothwell MP Alec Shelbrooke, who has supported the campaign for some time.
Mr Shelbrooke said: “It was a huge pleasure to rearrange my diary last week and meet with Jackie Roberts in Parliament to show my support for the RLSS campaign and raise awareness about the dangers of open water.
“I’ve agreed to work with Jackie and the RLSS locally in Wetherby to push this campaign forward and help prevent any further accidental deaths in our area.”
Mrs Roberts, who is still waiting for the inquest into her daughter’s death, is also fighting for barriers to be erected where Megan fell in the River Ouse.
“I am not going to give up on that because I think it would help,” she said.
She is, however, grateful to the people who have supported this year and is also campaigning for several other campaigns drawing attention to the risks around water.
She said: “I am helping raise awareness and funds to try to get the York Rescue Boat going. With what happened to Megan it would be there for people coming out of bars and clubs as a warning but also potentially to save lives.
“North Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner Julia Mulligan is also trying to instigate a campaign, so I have done a video with them and we are now waiting for public risk assessments to come back to give some indication of how to improve things.
“The university has been fantastic and really supportive and I am still in contact with the police.
“I have a liaison officer who is with me up until the inquest, and I get a lot of personal support because I have got a really good network of family and friends.”