The mother and brother of Cameron Gosling – a County Durham teen who died after jumping into the River Wear – have spoken to youngsters about the dangers of cold water shock.
Cameron’s younger brother Cyle recently spoke to his year-eight classmates during an assembly at Parkside Academy in Willington, the school which Cameron also attended.
The assembly was organised by Durham County Council’s One Point service as part of the Safe Durham Partnership’s Dying to Be Cool campaign.
Dying to Be Cool raises awareness among 10 to 15-year-olds of the dangers of jumping into water without acclimatising first. Cameron Gosling was just 14 when he lost his life after plunging into the Wear near Bishop Auckland in summer 2015.
Cyle, aged 12, told the pupils, “Imagine going out every day and your best friend not being there to laugh, joke and mess around with – that’s what it’s like for me.”
Cyle spoke about the day his brother died, saying, “My mam and dad came and told me Cameron had jumped in the river and hadn’t come back up.”
“My first reaction was to burst out in tears – to try and take my mind off what was happening in the other room I put some comedy movies on Netflix.”
“After what seemed like forever, we were told he had been found and I asked my mam and dad if he was alive – they both shook their heads.”
“The tears started again and this time wouldn’t stop. I turned all Cam’s photos around out of the way. I just couldn’t look at them.”
“From that day, life has been like a rollercoaster. Your mood goes up and down.”
“Cameron wasn’t just my brother. He was my best friend and I will never forget him.”
“The message my family wants to get out to everyone is just stay safe around water. Acclimatise your body to the temperature of the water before jumping in. It will take you five minutes and give you a better chance of going home.”
Cyle’s mum, Fiona Gosling – who also spoke during the assembly – said, “As a family, life has never been the same since Cameron left us and it never will be.”
“But we are all determined to channel our pain into reducing the chances of other families going through what we have.”
“Cyle wanted to play his part by speaking in the assembly and it was really emotional for me, him and everyone who was there when he did.”
Dying to Be Cool assemblies – featuring personal addresses from Fiona Gosling and displays of safety equipment from Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Service – have been delivered to more than 10,000 children since the campaign began in 2016.
In addition, Cameron’s friends have appeared in videos produced by the council to warn of the risks of cold water shock. The videos have been viewed over 34,000 times on Facebook alone.
The Dying to Be Cool campaign has helped reduce the number of water-related injuries and fatalities. In 2015/16, County Durham saw nine near misses, five injuries and two fatalities. In 2016/17, there were just four near misses, two injuries and one fatality.
Since the beginning of 2017, there have been no fatalities in open water in County Durham.
Durham County Council’s cabinet member for community safety, Cllr Lucy Howels MBE, said, “We are all so very grateful to Cyle.”
“Getting up in front of your entire year group and talking is difficult for any 12-year-old.”
“But to talk to them about losing your brother is incredibly brave and we can only hope that Cyle’s words will stay with his classmates when they are around water in the warmer months.”
To learn more about cold water shock and the Dying to Be Cool campaign, please go to www.durham.gov.uk/dyingtobecool.
Separate campaigns have been launched to keep revellers safe on Newcastle’s Quayside and to warn Durham students of the dangers of falling into water after nights out.
(The featured image shows Fiona Gosling speaking in the assembly.)