Open water safety campaigner Debbie Turnbull honoured with an MBE

  • Watch the report by ITV Cymru Wales reporter, Ian Lang

A mother who became an avid open water campaigner after her son drowned in a river has been honoured with an MBE.

Debbie Turnbull, of Holywell, was honoured by His Majesty the King in the New Year’s Honours list for services in the education of young people and families about the dangers of open water.

Debbie's son Christopher sadly drowned age 15 while swimming in open water with friends in 2006.

Since then, Debbie has made it her mission to educate young people in addition to supporting families who have lost a child or family member to drowning through the non-profit organisation she set up - River And Sea Sense (RASS).

Christopher, then aged 15, fell into a whirlpool before going into cold water shock. Credit: ITV Wales

So far she has spoken to and educated around 700,000 young people to date about river and sea safety, but is aiming to reach many more.

"I feel that with what I've got planned, we'll do a million by Christmas (2024)," she said.

"The difference with me doing what I do is that I come from a mothers perspective always."

"And because I've got a story that links to every single point I make about being safe in open water, I just feel that I'm ready to do much bigger things and raise the roof on it."

Some of the work she does includes organising basic first aid and CPR training with the Royal Life Saving Society, with special focus on secondary school children.

Debbie admitted that it's not always been easy, but has remains optimistic.

"It's hard at times, it's been brutal financially, but I feel now that with what I'm creating and the partnerships I'm looking at, it's going to roll."

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