A daily newspaper has launched a campaign to promote river safety in York after a spate of deaths from people attempting to swim its dangerous waters.
Journalists from The Press teamed up with a local film-maker to produce a hard-hitting short film as part of its “Think, Don’t Swim” campaign.
The newspaper launched the campaign following a string of deaths in recent years in the city’s two rivers, the Ouse and the Foss.
The campaign was launched following the death of Richard Horrocks, who became the third person to die trying to swim across the York’s rivers this year after the end of his final shift in a riverside bar.
Crime reporter Jennifer Bell said: “We felt it was The Press’s duty to try to do something to deter another tragedy.
“Richard Horrocks had just become the third person to die in York’s rivers so far this year and it was essential to find out whether his family would be willing to back a campaign to raise awareness of the dangers the rivers pose.
“Richard’s mother and sister gave their strong support to the idea, saying they wanted to prevent another family going through a similar tragedy. The idea also won full support from the fire service, police, York’s two universities and other bereaved families.
“We initially launched Think, Don’t Swim with a poster and beer mat campaign targeting city centre pubs and York’s two universities but then we approached a York filmmaker, Christopher David, of Flash Frame Productions to see whether he would be willing to make a film to highlight the dangers.”
The paper then organised filmed interviews with the mother and sister of Richard, a former coroners officer and a diving expert.
Chief reporter Mike Laycock said: “Co-operative Funeralcare agreed to allow one of their funeral parlours in York to be used as a sombre setting for the interviews. Christopher also decided to film a fictional dramatisation in which a young man meets a girl in a nightclub, they walk along the riverside and the young man decides to go skinny dipping in the river, with tragic consequences.
“A York nightclub, Bar Salvation, agreed to let filming take place on the premises and Commercial Diving and Marine Services allowed Christopher to do some underwater filming in their training tank.
“The end result is a really hard-hitting eight minute film which was premiered at a city-centre cinema, City Screen, which is just yards from the balcony that Richard jumped off into the river.”
Added Jennifer: “The stunned silence at the end of the film spoke a thousand words. It is now available to see online on www.thepress.co.uk and emergency services and universities are looking to carry a link to their websites.
“Richard’s parents and sister felt the film sent out a strong message which they hoped would prevent at least one other person drowning in the river.”