Nick Pope’s 19-year-old son Charlie lost his life in 2018 when he lost his footing and drowned after falling into Rochdale canal in Manchester. The student from Ponteland was returning to his halls of residence after a night out during a storm.
Following his son’s death, Nick has worked with local businesses and organisations such as Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Services to provide water safety advice and training to the local community. He has praised the initiative, calling it “important and impressive” and thanking the council for their funding, but has nonetheless emphasised the importance of “avoiding walking close to water on your way home” and “making sure you are accompanied by someone” in case of difficulties.
The throw bags require a code to access, which can be provided to members of the public by the fire and rescue service when they ring 999 if someone is in danger in the water. Once accessed, they are designed to be thrown to the casualty to pull them to safety or at least hold them in position until the fire and rescue service arrive.
The initiative is part of a wider aim to promote waterside safety in the Tyne and Wear area. It has included the introduction of wider throwlines across the region and throw bag training for riverside businesses. Though some equipment has been subject to vandalism and theft, the measures have been praised for preventing seven deaths in the past four years.