Coast to Coast water safety, an organisation that delivers lifesaving and water safety lessons, have been busy helping local young people get more confident in the water with their Junior Water Safety Programme.

The Junior Water Safety Programme is a fully funded project where professionals deliver practical water safety skills to youngsters in school years 5 and 6. Over 130 children have signed up to the programme this year, and the courses are completely free.

The initiative was launched in 2022 by Kate and Lois Doison, and is run in partnership with Dartmouth Swimming club.

It aims to provide kids confidence in the water as well as equip them with some skills and knowledge to help keep them and their friends safe when around water.

Kate said of the programme: “We are delighted to say that we have well over 100 kids who will be going through our programme this year at no cost what’s so ever to the school or the parents. This is only made possible through the generosity of local donations.”

The organisation rely on sponsorship and donations to keep their initiative going.

“We have had some support from local charities and business in providing equipment to get things up and running, but we are always looking for sponsorship to help keep the project running year in year out. We do a joint fundraiser each year with Dartmouth Swimming Club to raise funds.”

Kate added: “The first year myself and Ben from the Dartmouth Swimming Club swam for 24 hours - which was horrendous but raised over £3000 which allowed us to kick start the project. We wish to keep this project free to schools and children as we feel it is a vital part of a childs education when living around the coast and we wish for it to be available to ALL.

“The project has highlighted the general low swimming ability of children and so we deal with that in showing them what they can do to stay afloat in the water should they find themselves out of their depth or in difficulty. Our programme is different to other school water safety initiatives in that we actually take the kids in the sea - we show them first hand the dangers and give them actual practical skills to help them should they find themselves in difficulty.”

She continued: “So far the feedback has been incredible - some children who start the day terrified of the sea are finishing up with huge smiles running and jumping into the water staying safe in relation to their abilities, confident that they can do something to look after themselves. For some it is the first time they have been in the sea - all these personal achievements are bonus success stories of the programme.”

The instructors for the programme are Loic Doison from Coast to Coast Water Safety who has lots of safety experience and long standing history of beach lifeguarding, and Mat Cusack from Dartmouth Swimming Club, who is an extensive swim coach CV and has open water sea swimming coaching and experience.

Kate said: “As a Dad to a young boy (Loic) is passionate about ensuring the local children are safe around the coast and are given vital skills to be able to enjoy all the benefits of getting out to the beach but in a safe way.

“Mat compliments the team perfectly... also a father and all round community champion, he too is passionate about equipping local children with basic swimming skills and making swimming something all children have the opportunity to learn.”

One parent said of the scheme: “My daughter and her friends were doing this yesterday, with the rest of their class at Blackpool Sands and absolutely loved it . I feel much happier about her being in the water now, and can’t thank Coast to Coast Water Safety enough.”

The intiative has seen the community rally around to assist in whatever way they can, with help from various generous sponsors such as the local freemasons. Blackpool sands estate has assisted by allowing the team to use their beach facilities free of charge; Dartmouth Leisure Centre has lent their pool for fundraisers at a hugely discounted rate and ethical merchandise store Etees has offered up discounted merchandise, providing baseball caps for the young people to take away as a souvenir of their sessions.

Kate added: “If schools would like to be added to our mailing list to be in with a chance of joining next years programme then they get in touch with us via the website.”