Aunt's plea for open water safety warning after nephew's death

William McNally, 13, died after getting into difficulty in the River Gryffe two years ago.

Aunt issues plea to make children aware of dangers of open air swimming following nephew’s death Drennan Family

The aunt of a teenage boy who died after getting into difficulty while in a river is urging families to make children aware of the dangers of open water swimming.

William McNally, 13, died after getting into trouble in an area known as the Clay Pits in the river Gryffe near Linwood, Renfrewshire, two years ago.

Despite rescue attempts by his friends and the emergency services to rescue him, William died a few days later.

His aunt, Jayne Drennan, and her sisters have campaigned since to raise awareness of water safety to save other families from having to go through the ordeal of losing a loved one.

Speaking ahead of World Drowning Prevention Day on Tuesday, she said: “Since William’s accident, we continue to struggle knowing that he is gone, and we won’t be able to see him again.

“Coping feels impossible on some days. Others are slightly more bearable but all in all, it’s a real living nightmare.

“Our lives have been changed forever. Things won’t and can’t ever be the same again and William’s loss has left a hole in our lives that cannot be filled.”

Since the accident, William’s family have been at the forefront of a drive to teach people about the dangers of swimming in open water.

“Water safety has become incredibly important to myself and my family,” said Ms Drennan. “In all honesty, prior to William’s accident, I was probably naive as to how important water safety initiatives and education are and should be.

“This is paramount to us as a family now – William’s death was preventable and that’s really difficult to carry.

“Promoting water safety and highlighting the risks of open water to others has given us some focus and purpose in the aftermath of what’s happened.

“Kids need to be careful and aware of the risks. Young people can be really confident swimmers which can contribute to a false sense of security and ability when it comes to open water.”

Buildings across Renfrewshire will be lit up in blue on Tuesday to mark World Drowning Prevention Day and to remember William and all others who have lost their lives in drowning accidents.

Marie McGurk, convener of Renfrewshire Council’s communities and housing policy board, said: “William’s death was a tragic accident that has affected so many people across Renfrewshire, but the campaigning work that his family have carried out since he passed away has made a real impact and will leave a lasting legacy.

“We’re committed to making our waterways as safe as possible and have provided more lifesaving equipment, including GPS signage, rings and poles, as well as looking to educate people about the dangers of open water swimming.”

For more information on water safety, visit the Renfrewshire Council website.

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