Holywell business-owner Debbie Turnbull has turned personal tragedy into a hugely important mission.
In 2006, Debbie’s son Christopher drowned after becoming trapped under Cyfyng Falls on the Afon Llugwy in Capel Curig. Debbie’s remarkable commitment to helping ensure the safety of young people around open water began soon after.
Debbie set about keeping Christopher’s name alive, and protecting countless Welsh children in the process, by starting not-for-profit organisation, River and Sea Sense.
Since starting the organisation Debbie has spoken to over 390,000 children about keeping safe in open water, and at the end of 2018 was given The Points of Light Award from the Prime Minister, Theresa May, in recognition of this work.
Debbie has also been awarded with the National Lottery’s top honour, the Special Achievement Award, presented by Bear Grylls in front of a star-studded audience in 2017 River and Sea Sense aims to improve safety through education, as well as equipping children with crucial life-saving skills.
Debbie has a Water Safety Education Project speaking primarily to young people between the ages of 8 and 18 in Schools and Colleges - She has also supported many families who have suffered a similar loss.
River and Sea Sense’s journey started only a month after Christopher died, when Debbie visited his school to talk about what had happened. Shortly afterwards, Debbie and the school fund raised £1600 to pay for a Lifesaving Raft and 6 Dry Rescue Suits for the Ogwen Valley Mountain Rescue Team. From here, Debbie continued to fund raise and talk to schools in the area, and River and Sea Sense continued to grow.
The next steps for River and Sea Sense are to work in Partnerships with other organisations on Water Safety Education, to create a new project dealing with the mental health of those who have suffered loss and trauma, and to encourage businesses to come on-board to support them tell their stories and share to even more people and save lives.
Debbie’s truly courageous and inspiring mission will no doubt continue to keep adults and young people safe in North Wales and beyond.