Connor Markward: Family of teenager drowned in Loch Lomond call for better education in schools on dangers of outdoor swimming
The family of a Scots teenager who drowned in Loch Lomond has pleaded for lessons be learned from his death.
Connor Markward, 16, died near Balloch Castle Country Park on Friday July 23.
He had been enjoying a day out with friends at the beauty spot when he got into difficulty in the water.
Now, his family calling for a safety campaign in schools to prevent a future tragedy.
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Connor's sister Claire Lindsay, 35, told the BBC: “I never knew how dangerous Loch Lomond was. You don't understand until it happens to you.
“We are so heartbroken. He had a heart of gold.”
Claire told BBC Scotland she had no idea about safety advice for people who get into trouble in the water.
She said: “I never knew how dangerous Loch Lomond was. I think they should teach about currents and how deep the water is in nurseries and schools.
“I didn't even know until after Connor passed that when you get into difficulty you are not supposed to panic and you should 'starfish' in the water. If you get taught that… it could save people's lives.”
Connor's mother Margaret is calling for young people to be told more about the dangers of outdoor swimming.
Margaret, 52, believes easier access to swimming lessons for youngsters in school may help prevent another tragedy.
She said: “I had never heard you were supposed to do 'the star' to keep floating. I want more talks about swimming, learning to swim and awareness about the dangers.”
Connor's death was one of seven water-related tragedies in the space of a week last month in Scotland.
In the final week of July, an 11-year-old boy died in a river at Stonehouse, a 13-year-old boy lost his life in water at Hazelbank in Lanark, while a 16-year-old boy died at Balloch at the south end of Loch Lomond.
The following day, Edina Olahova, 29, Rana Haris Ali, nine, and Muhammad Asim Riaz, 39, died after getting into difficulty in the water near Pulpit Rock at Loch Lomond, while a 34-year-old man died in the following days in Loch Lubnaig.
In response, Scotland’s community safety minister, Ash Denham, convened a meeting with Police Scotland, the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, the Scottish Ambulance Service and the Coastguard, along with representatives of Scottish Canals, Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park, the RNLI, Water Safety Scotland and Education Scotland, among others.
Following the meeting, Ms Denham said: “The Scottish Government takes water safety very seriously and this meeting was an opportunity for us to engage with key partners and reflect on the recent tragic incidents and look at what more can be done to mitigate risks and to educate people about the dangers of Scotland’s coastal and inland waters.
“Beautiful and enticing as they often appear, Scotland’s waters can be a source of lethal danger, as we saw with the heart-breaking loss of lives this summer.
“I was heartened to hear a real determination and unity of purpose at Wednesday’s meeting for everyone to work together to improve water safety and I am encouraged all participants agreed not only to review their own organisation’s approach and performance, but also to work collaboratively so that key, consistent messages get across to the public.