Mark Allen

A young man who drowned after jumping into a reservoir to cool off on a hot day has inspired an MP to demand improved safety measures in the wake of the tragedy. 

Mark Allen, 18, died after jumping into Gorton Reservoir in Manchester on a hot summer day in 2018 while out with friends. 

Mark is one of about 400 people who accidentally drown in the UK every year. 

Now Southport MP Damien Moore is calling for more to be done in order to save lives across the UK. 

The MP spoke about Mark’s tragic case during a debate in Parliament on Monday, where he called for throw bags and throwlines to be placed around open bodies of water. He also wants to expand opportunities for people to learn how to swim and spread awareness around water safety.

Mr Moore also raised the tragic case of young Southport man Ben Smith-Crallan, who died after falling into the lake at the Botanic Gardens in Churchtown in Southport in June 2018, and called for throwlines to be installed around the lake. 

Ben’s death has since led to the creation of the ‘Make A Change For Botanic’ campaign, led by his best friend David Rawsthorne, which has so far raised over £25,000 to carry out essential safety improvement works at the park. 

Since Mark Allen’s death, his Mum Leeanne Bartley has launched a petition and has campaigned for emergency throwlines to be installed next to every lake in the UK.

“If there was rescue equipment, we believe there would be a strong chance he’d still be with us today,” she said.

Raising his case during a Westminster Hall Debate on Monday, Southport MP Damien Moore urged the Government to ensure that “we all do everything we can to prevent senseless tragedies, such as that of Mark Allen, from ever happening again.” 

He said: “This petition was signed by 606 of my constituents in Southport. I am all too aware of the tragic case of Mark Allen; I send my condolences to his family and friends and join my colleagues in calling for throwlines to be installed to prevent such needless loss of life in the future.

“Landowners have a duty of care to those on their land. I want to suggest that that duty should be strengthened, with further legal requirements for landowners to assess and act on the risks posed by open bodies of water.

“In a modern, 21st-century country such as the United Kingdom, it is unacceptable that drowning continues to be one of the leading causes of accidental death. It is estimated that a shocking 44% of drowning fatalities happen to people who had no intention of even entering the water.

“Drowning in the United Kingdom is reported to account for more accidental fatalities annually than fire deaths in the home or cycling deaths on the road. Men are the most at-risk group in every age group, accounting for eight in 10 of all deaths.

“It is incredibly important for landowners to carry out risk assessments around open bodies of water, particularly where children are concerned, so that protections such as throwlines can be put in place. 

“In Southport, the sea rarely comes in, but when it does it is rapid and all too often deadly. Our local rescue services go above and beyond in their duty to warn and protect; I welcome the opening, last week, of Southport’s new £1.4 million lifeboat station. Southport Offshore Rescue Trust, which is independent from the RNLI, was founded by Kath Wilson after her son passed away in 1987 while fishing off the Southport coast. Southport Lifeboat is crewed entirely by volunteers and has helped to safely return more than 5,000 people since it was founded. I am sure that we all want to congratulate Kath and her excellent team of volunteers on their amazing work.

“I also want to highlight that the RNLI has some excellent videos and explainers about what someone can do if they are in trouble in the water, including dealing with cold water shock, and I encourage all MPs to share them with their constituents. If those watching take anything away from this debate, it should be the three extremely important words provided by the RNLI: “Float to Live”.

The Botanic Gardens in Churchtown in Southport. Photo by Andrew Brown Media

The Botanic Gardens in Churchtown in Southport. Photo by Andrew Brown Media

“I am sure that many of my colleagues are aware of the tragic incident involving Ben Smith-Crallan, who fell into a lake in Southport’s Botanic Gardens and sadly died following complications from an infection.

“Following the ‘Make a change for Ben’ campaign, led by my constituent David Rawsthorne, tens of thousands of pounds have been raised for improvement works to the gardens, including the installation of an aeration fountain at the end of the lake to ensure that water is oxygenised, and potential measures to stop people falling in. I would add throwlines to the list of safety measures that need to be included.

“The UK drowning prevention strategy acknowledges the difficulty caused by the fact that responsibility for managing water risks is dispersed among a number of organisations. While many, such as the Southport Offshore Rescue Trust and the RNLI, do excellent work, further efforts should be made to unite their various responsibilities to ensure that resources are effectively used, responsibility is clearly defined and individuals are best protected.

“Let us start with the simple solutions. We should heed the calls of this petition to implement throw bags and throwlines around open bodies of water and go further by expanding opportunities to learn how to swim and spreading awareness around water safety.

“When the UK drowning prevention strategy was published in 2015, it called for accidental drowning fatalities in the United Kingdom to be halved by 2026. The latest data shows that we are halfway there, with a 25% decrease since the strategy was published. We should maintain that progress—even speed it up if we can—and ensure that we all do everything we can to prevent senseless tragedies, such as that of Mark Allen from ever happening again.” 

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  1. Bernard John Powell 2 years ago

    There is a throw line in Hesketh Park, Southport. It was vandalised during thee summer but I contacted a Councillor and it was replaced. At every entrance there needs to be a safety notice showing the location of the defibrillator and the throw line. The Park Run regulars know the locations but what about visitors. Perhaps money from ward funds could help pay for them.

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