A grieving mother has told of her devastation at losing her teenage son in a tombstoning accident in an effort to prevent further tragedies.

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Gillian Barclay said not a day goes past when she doesn't think of her son Cameron Lancaster, who drowned aged 18 in 2014 after the water jump - also said to have been a variation on the so-called ice bucket challenge - went wrong.


Above: Gillian Barclay at Cramond. Picture: Gordon Terris

Ms Barclay was speaking as a new 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, while 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.

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Ahead of today's launch, Ms Barclay recalled the day she lost Cameron.

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

HeraldScotland: Teenager Cameron Lancaster, who died in a drowning accident in 2014, pictured with his mother Gillian Barclay.

Above: Cameron Lancaster. Picture: Submitted

But later on the warm August day, while she was cutting grass, police arrived with grim news.

It was reported he had been tombstoning, or leaping from sheer cliffs, into the quarry.

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.


Above: Ms Barclay and Cameron. Picture: Submitted

"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 very 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.”

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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.


Above: Ms Barclay and Michael Avril at Cramond. Picture: Gordon Terris

“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 in Scotland.”

Strategy objectives include developing learning to swim and water safety education in primary and secondary schools and setting up local water safety strategies across Scotland's 32 local authority areas.

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Clare Adamson, MSP for Motherwell and Wishaw and convener of the cross party group on accident prevention and safety awareness, has supported the strategy through its development.

She 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. I fully endorse the aims of the strategy to reduce accidental drowning deaths and reduce water-related suicide.”