Published 26 April 2023

Father urges people to Be Water Aware in homage to his son

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The father of a teenager who tragically drowned on a night out has welcomed the installation of 14 new throw-bags on the banks of the River Tyne.

Nick Pope was left devastated in 2018 when his 19-year-old son Charlie heartbreakingly lost his life after a night out in Manchester.

The student, who was from Ponteland but studying in the city, was on his way back to his halls of residence when he lost his footing and fell into the water.

His devastated father Nick was determined to do everything he could to ensure other families did not have to experience the same grief.

The businessman has campaigned alongside Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service (TWFRS) to deliver water safety advice to communities.

And now he has welcomed the installation of 14 life-saving throw-bags by Newcastle City Council along the busy Quayside, which saw an investment by the local authority of £10,500.

Each throw-bag is attached to a board and, if someone is in danger in the water, a member of public on the quayside would ring 999, asking for the fire and rescue service and will in turn be given a code to access the equipment.

They would then throw the bag to the casualty and pull them to safety, or at least hold them in position until the fire and rescue service arrived.

Similar equipment has already saved lives and has been driven by TWFRS in recent years as part of their Community Responder Scheme.

Today Nick, who has two other children, has praised the installation of the scheme at the beginning of the launch of the national Be Water Aware campaign.

He said: “Awareness campaigns are so important to try and make sure it doesn’t happen to other families.

“Everybody naturally thinks that they can come to no harm and that they will never end up in the water.

“You think to yourself, it only ever happens to other people and other families. We thought that, until it happened to our family.

“The one piece of advice I would give, is where you can, please avoid walking close to water on your way home.

“Choose another route. Even in Newcastle at the quayside on a night out, you don’t need to be close to the water.

“If you do need to walk home near to the water, please make sure you are accompanied by someone just in case you get into difficulties.

“The throw bags initiative is incredibly important and impressive. It is already saving lives and people are alive today who would have died.

“It is also fantastic to see that the local business communities have got involved to be trained and to look after the people visiting their community.”

Nick is a Managing Director at a manufacturing company, who lives in Ponteland with his wife, Andria. Charlie is survived by two siblings a brother who lives and works in New Zealand and a sister who is studying in Japan.

Release and image courtesy of Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service