Woman whose fiance died in Sunderland sea tragedy features in water safety campaign

Jo Wardle's fiance Alex Hardy drowned at Hendon beach in Sunderland last year, after slipping and being washed into the sea.
Jo Wardle's fiance Alex Hardy drowned at Hendon beach in Sunderland last year, after slipping and being washed into the sea.
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The tragic story of a woman whose fiance died in a Sunderland sea tragedy is featured in a new water safety campaign.

Jo Wardle’s fiance Alex Hardy, 32, drowned at Hendon beach in Sunderland last September, after slipping while trying to rescue his dog Fudge from being washed into the sea.

The story appears in one of two hard-hitting campaign videos created by the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI), as part of its national drowning-prevention campaign.

Respect the Water was launched today as figures revealed that 31 people lost their lives around north England coasts last year.

Jo, who desperately tried to save her partner from the waves, said: “Alex and I were walking the dogs along the beach – we used to go there all the time, it was just a normal day.

“Alex’s dog went down a slipway into the sea, but started to struggle.

Jo Wardle's fiance Alex Hardy drowned at Hendon beach in Sunderland last year, after slipping and being washed into the sea.

Jo Wardle's fiance Alex Hardy drowned at Hendon beach in Sunderland last year, after slipping and being washed into the sea.

“Alex followed, wanting to help, but slipped and banged his head and was then washed out to sea himself. I rushed in, to try and reach him, but the water was just so powerful.

“A huge search took place, but he was gone – at just 32 years old. It was such a massive shock, how a simple walk at the coast can suddenly turn into tragedy.

“I am still totally devastated.

“I respect the sea and coastline more now than ever. I’d urge anyone heading to the coast this summer to be really careful – even if you’re not planning to go into the water, you could still find yourself in danger.”

The campaign films will be shown in cinemas across the UK from tomorrow.