THE mother of a 20-year-old Leeds woman who drowned in the River Ouse at York has made a heartfelt plea to students to stay safe on the eve of the second anniversary of her daughter’s death.
Megan Roberts, who was studying fine arts at York St John University, fell into the River Ouse in York in the early hours of Thursday January 23 2014 after a night out drinking with friends.
Her body was found in the water near Acaster Malbis almost six weeks later.
Former Wetherby High School student Megan was one of five people to die in York’s rivers in 2014.
After the tragedy, her grieving mother Jackie Roberts became actively involved with the Royal Life Saving Society UK (RLSS UK) and is now the drowning prevention charity’s UK ambassador.
Mrs Roberts is backing the charity’s re-launch of its national campaign Don’t Drink and Drown, warning students to steer clear of walking by or entering water when under the influence of alcohol.
The campaign, which runs from January 25 to 31, urges students to act responsibly near water after they have been drinking - and to make sure they and their friends avoid walking home near bodies of water.
Mrs Roberts said: “It means a great deal that the RLSS UK campaign, Don’t Drink and Drown, is running in York and that both the University of York and York St John University are working together to help keep their students safe.
“I hope that the awareness events in York will highlight to people the dangers of being near water when under the influence of alcohol and help to avoid any more tragedies.
“I don’t want any more people to lose their son, daughter, mother, father or friend the way I lost Megan.
“By targeting this vulnerable age group with Don’t Drink and Drown messages I really hope that it makes people think twice about walking home near water.
“Not only does this campaign help keep Megan’s memory alive, it will help prevent this from happening again and another, beautiful young life to be lost.
“Please, when walking home from a night out, avoid routes that are alongside water, particularly in the darkness, and always stay with and look out for your friends. Don’t walk away from your friends, always let people know where you are.”
York students will be warned to steer clear of walking by or entering water when under the influence of alcohol at an awareness event led by Jackie Roberts at York City Rowing Club at 1pm on Friday January 29.
The charity will be releasing 400 balloons over the River Ouse to signify the number of deaths by drowning in the UK each year. Members of the public are invited to attend.