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Free swimming lessons offered to children in Stoke-on-Trent after death of Ryan Evans

13-year-old Ryan (right) died after getting into difficulty while swimming at Westport Lake Credit: PA/BPM Media

Free swimming lessons are being offered to hundreds of young people in Staffordshire to keep children safe when swimming over the summer holidays.

It comes after 13-year-old Ryan Evans died after getting into difficulty at Westport Lake in Stoke-on-Trent at the end of June.

There were also water-related deaths at theRiver Derwent in Derby, where a 24-year-old became trapped underwater, at Colwick Park in Nottingham, where a 16-year-old died and at the Crown Lakes in Peterborough.

A 16-year-old boy also died after going swimming at Colwick Park in Nottingham

Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service have teamed up with The Royal Life Saving Society and Stoke-on-Trent Council to run the swim safe sessions. The initiative is being backed by Ryan Evans' dad Glynn, whohas previously said that he wants his son to be "used as an example to other kids of the dangers of swimming outdoors."

As part of the Swim Safer campaign, there will be a review of all open water venues owned by the city council across the Potteries.

It will also include classes on water safety and swimming lessons for children aged between 6-14.

Hundreds of people lined the streets of Stoke earlier this week for Ryan's funeral. Credit: ITV News Central

We want all children and young people to swim safer and enjoy the summer holidays safely. Ryan’s incredibly sad death has very tragically brought the issue of water safety, especially in open stretches of water, sharply into focus.

We are determined to do all we can to help keep children safe. The activities that will take place at our leisure centres are the biggest water safety campaign of its kind that we have run. I’d like to see all the places filled, and for children to learn water safety skills that will last them a lifetime. If places exceed demand, we’re committed to adding more sessions too.

With the current hot weather it is only natural that people will be tempted to go swimming but please only swim in any water that is designated as safe and supervised.

– Ann James, Council Leader