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Sunderland school pupils hit the surf for water safety campaign at seafront

Sunderland councillor John Kelly and RNLI life Guard Beth Forrester are joined with pupils from Fulwell Junior school at the launch of the "Hit The Surf" water safety campaign in the at Seaburn. Picture by FRANK REID
Sunderland councillor John Kelly and RNLI life Guard Beth Forrester are joined with pupils from Fulwell Junior school at the launch of the "Hit The Surf" water safety campaign in the at Seaburn. Picture by FRANK REID

Youngsters from schools across Sunderland have been learning valuable water safety lessons in the run-up to the summer holidays.

The RNLI has been at Seaburn beach over the last few weeks running 28 ‘Hit the Surf’ sessions for eight to 11-year old primary school pupils.

Pupils from Fulwell Junior school taking part in the "hit the surf" water safety campaign in the North Sea at Seaburn. Picture by FRANK REID.

Pupils from Fulwell Junior school taking part in the "hit the surf" water safety campaign in the North Sea at Seaburn. Picture by FRANK REID.

The programme offers a unique opportunity for school children and youth groups to get practical lessons in lifesaving and beach safety at one of the North East’s most beautiful beaches.

RNLI Lifeguard supervisor, Nick Campbell said: "Each session lasts two and a half hours and includes a lesson on staying safe at the beach as well as explaining the role the RNLI and our lifeguards play.

"We talk about things like the importance of always swimming between the red and yellow flags, and what to do if you get into trouble.

"This is followed with a lifesaving lesson and the chance to learn surf based skills which help build the children’s confidence in the sea.

Fulwell Junior school pupil Reece Watson on his surf board under the watchful eye of RNLI Life Guard Adam Blenkinsop during the "hit the surf" water safety campaign in the North Sea at Seaburn. Picture by FRANK REID

Fulwell Junior school pupil Reece Watson on his surf board under the watchful eye of RNLI Life Guard Adam Blenkinsop during the "hit the surf" water safety campaign in the North Sea at Seaburn. Picture by FRANK REID

"Our charity's lifeguards also teach them what hazards they need to watch out for at the beach.

"The idea is that they then take that advice home and share it with family and friends."

Sunderland schools taking part in the sessions are : South Hylton Primary School, Redby Academy, Grangetown Primary School, St Leonard's Primary School, Willowfields Community Primary School, New Silksworth Academy, Valley Road Primary School, Hudson Road Primary School, St John Bosco RC Primary, Hetton Lyons, Lambton Primary School, English Martyrs RC Primary, Wessington Primary School, Broadway Junior School, Argyle House School, Barnwell Academy, Hill View Junior School, Hylton Castle Primary School, Newbottle Academy, St Benet's Primary School and Farringdon Academy.

Headteacher at Fulwell Junior School, Mr Peter Speck said: "It’s really important for children and their families to remember water safety messages, and I’m delighted that our pupils and others across the city are taking part in the RNLI ‘Hit the Surf’ sessions.

“Living in a city near the sea and sessions like these are invaluable in raising awareness of the dangers in around and water, and hopefully teaching some skills which will help them enjoy the sea even more while also keeping them safer.”

The Hit the Surf sessions are part of Sunderland's annual water safety programme which has seen the RNLI joining forces with the City Council and the RLSS (Royal Lifesaving Society) to promote water safety.

This has included water safety lessons in schools to more than 150,000 pupils since 1994.

Eleven-year-old Fulwell Junior School pupil Scarlett Anderson said: “Hit the surf was amazing fun and it was great to learn how to stay safe in the water.”

Sunderland City Council leads the Water Safety Partnership which includes the RNLI, the RLSS, Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service, Northumbria Police, Everyone Active and other community partners to promote water safety messages and put practical life saving measures in place alongside open water.

Cabinet Member for Communities and Culture Councillor John Kelly said: "We're very lucky to have such a fantastic seafront and we want people to enjoy everything it has to offer but at the same time to be aware of the dangers too which is why we're working with the RNLI and the RLSS to raise awareness."