Mother tells of ‘devastation’ after son died from jump into Fife quarry

Cameron Lancaster, who died at Prestonhill quarry in Inverkeithing.''Picture: Gillian Barclay/Contributed
Cameron Lancaster, who died at Prestonhill quarry in Inverkeithing.''Picture: Gillian Barclay/Contributed
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A grieving mother has told of her devastation at losing her teenage son after he jumped from a cliff into a water-filled quarry.

Gillian Barclay’s son Cameron Lancaster drowned aged 18 in 2014 after a tombstoning water jump went wrong.

Gillian said she had pleaded with him not to go swimming in the flooded quarry in Inverkeithing, Fife.

But later that day, police arrived with grim news.

It was reported Cameron had been tombstoning, or leaping from sheer cliffs, into the quarry which has continued to be in the headlines over safety fears.

The waters have also claimed the lives of John McKay, 18, and popular Edinburgh teacher Kelda Henderson, 36.

Eighteen-year-old John died at the quarry in 2015, and drama teacher Kelda failed to resurface from the water last year.

Ms Barclay was speaking as a strategy designed to drastically reduce the number of drowning deaths in Scotland is being launched by Water Safety Scotland, an alliance of organisations committed to drowning prevention.

On average, 50 people accidentally drown in Scotland each year, making it one of the leading causes of accidental deaths in the country.

A further 29 people take their own lives in and around waterways.

It is hoped Scotland’s Drowning Prevention Strategy will to cut the number of accidental deaths by 50 per cent by 2026, while contributing to the reduction of water-related suicide.

Ahead of the launch, Ms Barclay recalled the day Cameron died.

She said: “The devastation of losing somebody from drowning is impossible to describe and I really don’t want another family to go through that.

“There’s not a day goes by when I don’t think of Cameron.”

Ms Barclay continued: “The loss of Cameron is the saddest and most difficult challenge I have ever faced.

“Cameron’s sister, brother and I became involved in water safety work because we want to help reduce the number of families and friends who face the horrific pain of losing a loved one to drowning.”

Ms Barclay, who was involved in helping formulate the strategy, said: “There is great work going on all the time to help people enjoy Scotland’s water while keeping themselves safe, and we need to keep making people aware of the risks around water.

“I’m grateful to Water Safety Scotland for allowing me to help shape Scotland’s first Drowning Prevention Strategy from the perspective of someone who has lost a child in a drowning accident.”

The strategy has been drawn up by experts from the Royal Life Saving Society UK, the Royal National Lifeboat Institution, and the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents.

Michael Avril, chairman of Water Safety Scotland, said: “The launch of Scotland’s Drowning Prevention Strategy represents an important milestone in water safety within Scotland.

“The partnership approach that has been taken is proving to be key to the development of the strategy; this however only represents the foundation on which we must now work to turn the strategy into action. I would ask that everyone plays their part to help us save more lives.”

The strategy’s objectives include developing learning to swim and water safety education in primary and secondary schools.

It also aims to set up local water safety strategies across Scotland’s 32 local authority areas.

Clare Adamson, MSP for Motherwell and Wishaw and convener of the cross-party group on accident prevention, said: “I am absolutely delighted to see Scotland’s Drowning Prevention Strategy launched.

“It fully reflects the partnership working that has been the hallmark of its conception and development.”