New memorial to Owen Jenkins - water safety signs

Published on: Monday, 13th July 2020

New water safety signs in memory of Owen Jenkins have been placed at sites across Long Eaton and at Beeston Weir as a part of a joint water safety campaign to raise awareness of the dangers of open water. 

On the 10 July 2017, 12 year old Owen Jenkins tragically died in Beeston Weir while helping two friends who had got into difficulty in the water.  Derbyshire Firefighters from Long Eaton Fire Station have now teamed up with Nottinghamshire Fire & Rescue Service and OWEN, the Open Water Education Network set up by Owen’s mum Nicola, to raise awareness, highlight the dangers of open water and to help prevent future tragedies from occurring as part of a local campaign in the Long Eaton and Beeston area.  

The new signs, which show some of the floral tributes laid as a memorial to Owen, were installed on the 3rd anniversary of his death at open water sites across Long Eaton, namely Sawley Weir, open water near Pasture Lane and along the River Derwent at Church Wilne.  The signs have also been placed by colleagues from Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service at the site of Owen’s death at Beeston Weir. 

Campaign lead, Firefighter Louise Needham from Derbyshire’s Long Eaton Fire Station said: “With the high temperatures we have been experiencing since the spring, we know many people have been tempted to cool down in rivers, weirs and other open water sources. 

“With many hidden dangers lurking beneath the surface, even the strongest swimmer can get into difficulty, so we have been making regular visits to risk areas across Long Eaton, speaking to people and trying to educate them and dissuade them from entering the water.  But we can’t always be on hand to talk to people about the dangers of open water, so we hope the new water safety boards that we have designed in partnership with Nicola and the OWEN network will highlight the dangers in our absence. 

“We are really honoured to be working with Nicola, in memory of her son Owen.  In 2017, Owen was one of 255 people who accidentally drowned in the UK.  He selflessly entered the water to help two friends who had got into difficulty, but tragically Owen paid the ultimate price for that help.  

“The boards show an image of Owen along with the floral tributes laid in his memory. What the boards can never show is the heartache and loss experienced by Owen’s family and friends, but we hope by using his legacy it will make people think twice and make the decision to stay out of the water.” 

Speaking ahead of the launch of the new water safety boards, Nicola Jenkins said: “The heartache and pain of losing Owen has been so tough, even three years on I still cry most days and I still have questions - the what ifs and whys? But what I do know is that I don’t want another family to go through the same pain and heartache when it can be prevented. 

“I will never see Owen grow up, have a relationship or children of his own.  The river took him from us, don’t let it be your child next. 

“Parents, please speak with your children about playing in or close to open water. Owen was not in the water that day, he only went in to rescue his friends who were in difficulty. He did not choose to die that day, he choose to help others not knowing the dangers to himself, something I wish I could change every day. I look back and wish that Owen and his friends had been educated about the dangers of open water and who to call if they got into difficulty. 

“Through the OWEN network, I want to keep Owen’s legacy alive and educate children, young people, adults and parents about the dangers, both visible and unseen, in and around open water and I hope that the new water safety boards can continue that work. 

“The boards may be hard hitting, but there is no easy way to say real people die in accidents that could be prevented.  If the boards make people stop and think twice about entering into the water, then they have done their job. 

Nicola went on to say: “The Owen Open Water Education Network was set up in memory of my son Owen Jenkins and I’m proud and honoured to be joining forces with Derbyshire Fire & Rescue Service to keep Owen’s legacy alive outside of Nottingham, whilst highlighting and educating others about the dangers of open water and what to do in the event of an emergency. Together we can make a difference.  Firefighters from Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire attended the tragic incident at Beeston Weir, close to the Derbyshire/Nottinghamshire border in July 2017"

Nottinghamshire Crew Manager Gareth Thomas, who works in the Service’s Education Team, said: “Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service helped to create content for the OWEN programme in 2018 making it a sustainable, up-to-date education package that has grown in numbers and currently has over 40 local ambassadors age 13+ from three Broxtowe schools. 

“It is hoped that this can be extended across Nottinghamshire in the future and we are proud to work in partnership with OWEN and the Nottinghamshire Water Safety Partnership.”

For more information about keeping safe around water, please visit www.derbys-fire.gov.uk; alternatively you can follow/like @DerbyshireFRS social media channels. Find out more about the work of the OWEN network by visiting the following social networking sites: 

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