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RoSPA National Water Safety Conference 2023

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RoSPA National Water Safety Conference

Wednesday, March 15, 2023 | Radisson Blu, Cardiff

With Global calls to prevent drowning: How is the UK responding?

In 2021, the United Nations declared drowning as a preventable global public health issue. As we face new challenges, the UK is helping to lead the call to prevent drownings.

The RoSPA National Water Safety Conference 2023 will focus specifically on how the UK has been responding to this call, and will look at community-based actions, data led systems, and the strategic direction of water safety within the UK.


Who is the conference for?

This conference is suitable for anyone with responsibility for water safety, or managing sites or locations that feature water hazards, as well as practitioners and academics within drowning prevention.



The RoSPA National Water Safety Conference 2023 will take place on Wednesday, March 15, 2023, at the Radisson Blu, Cardiff. Full address below:

Radisson Blu Hotel
Meridian Gate
Bute Terrace
CF10 2FL

How to book?

Spaces are available at £180 for RoSPA Members, and £199 for Non-Members.

All prices are plus 20% VAT.  Terms and conditions

To book your place, please complete the booking form and payment found at the top of this page. If you are a RoSPA Member, please log in to your MyRoSPA portal to take advantage of the discounted rate.

Once you have booked your place, you will receive a Booking Confirmation Email which will contain a link to select your track options. This is required to be completed as soon as possible.



09:30 - 10:00 – Registration

10:00 – Welcome and introduction


Born and schooled in the beautiful valleys of South Wales, and completing higher education in England, Dawn joined the John Lewis Partnership as a graduate. After 14 years with JLP, moving to the public sector and in 2004 joining Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service as a senior manager with a background in business and performance management.

Dawn completed her Masters in Business Administration in 2011 and subsequently her full operational command training. In April 2015, she began a secondment to central Government as a professional adviser to the Minister for Fire and Rescue, in both DCLG and the Home Office. In June 2016 Dawn was appointed the Deputy Chief Fire Officer in East Sussex and Chief Fire Officer in October 2017.

A member of the Chief Fire Officers Association (CFOA) (now known as the National Fire Chief’s Council (NFCC)), Dawn has led the development of the associations approach to drowning prevention and water safety since 2013 for all UK based Fire Services, she also represents NFCC on the National Water Safety Forum and was actively involved in the development of the UK National Drowning Prevention Strategy, launched at Westminster in February 2016.

An active volunteer for over 35 years, Dawn was a Trustee and Chair of the Board of a Northamptonshire voluntary infrastructure organisation prior to joining RLSS UK as a Trustee and Chair of Board between July 2016-December 2018.

Her passion, both through her professional and voluntary work is community safety, helping to educate and ensure the public understand risk and stay safe.

Dawn was a recipient of the Kings Fire Service Medal in the recent New Year’s Honour’s for her National work on Water Safety.

10:15 – The Power of Data in Prevention (New WAID)

With a background as a software engineer Jennifer started out writing code for submarines, but quickly found a love of all things data. Over the past 10 years Jennifer has moved from building large scale GIS systems to researching geospatial linked data, leading the development of new data products at Ordnance Survey, delivered innovative new data and analytics solutions in the Utilities industry, and now drives data adoption and strategy at The Maritime and Coastguard Agency.

10:35 –  Responding to the voice of families: Mark Allen's Law


Clare has held the role of Deputy Director for Water and Flood at the Welsh Government since September 2022. Clare has a proven track record of policy and programme delivery having spent 15 years working across Whitehall departments on complex multi-faceted issues including immigration and trade. Her current team leads on a breadth of environmental areas including improving water quality and flood management. Clare has an environmental science academic background.

There are still too many water-related incidents occurring in Wales including water-related fatalities. Mark Allen, aged 18, drowned after jumping into a reservoir on a hot day in June 2018. Mark’s loved ones petitioned the Senedd to place throwlines around water sources to reduce potential drownings. As a result, the Senedd Petitions Committee published a report with 6 recommendations to support the Water Safety & Drowning Prevention policy in Wales. These include:

  • Stronger relationships with organisations dedicated to water safety
  • Raising awareness to the dangers of water via public campaigns and education
  • Increased signage around water sources

The Minister for Climate Change has responsibility for this policy and is looking at how best to implement Wales’ Drowning Prevention Strategy (WDPS), which was published in December 2020 by Water Safety Wales. Through cross-departmental collaboration within the Welsh Government and delivery partners, adopting a Team Wales approach can reduce the number of water-related accidents and fatalities across the country.

10:55 – Keynote speech: What is the United Nations approach to drowning prevention?


Jonathon is an Australian public health injury prevention specialist educated at the University of Western Australia and Curtin University of Technology
Jonathon has worked for the World Health Organization for 19 years in a range of country and regional postings including China, Viet Nam, Philippines, the Western Pacific and European Regions, all in injury prevention, with a priority focus on prevention of all forms of drowning.
Jonathon has contributed to the development and implementation of all WHO’s normative and advocacy resource for drowning prevention and has a long history of collaboration with international drowning prevention partners including the Royal National Lifeboat Institution and the International Lifesaving Society.

Globally someone drowns every 2 minutes and kills more children under the age of 15 than tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS, malnutrition, measles, meningitis and hepatitis combined. This presentation will focus on WHO’S response to this environmental and human made epidemic detailing ongoing actions in understanding the burden and risk of drowning, political advocacy, and evidence based best practices for prevention.

11:20 – Break with refreshments

11:40 – Discussion Session 

12:00 – Climate change - Projections and future coastal impacts


Rachel has had a long-term interest in the marine environment, having several years’ experience working across both the public and private sectors. She has worked on a variety of global projects, that consider the impacts of climate change on our oceans. Rachel has developed numerous models; to simulate wave process including refraction and diffraction, and calculate wave overtopping of sea defences. Using various models, she has analysed how the tide and wave overtopping influences the extent of flooding throughout coastal communities. She has worked with a wide range of clients including government bodies, developers, insurers and reinsurers. Rachel is currently a Marine Scientist with the Met Office, researching how changing sea levels and storm surges effect coastal risk. She is passionate about protecting our coasts through both her work and communicating climate change to a wider audience.

Climate change is a highly complex, global issue that impacts communities at local scales, involving many sectors from science to economics, to society, and politics. One of the biggest threats of climate change is global sea-level rise. Global sea-level rise over the 21st Century and beyond, will exacerbate local extreme sea‐level events which impact coastal flood risk and has adverse impacts on marine ecosystems. During this talk, Rachel will present an overview of the UK Climate Projections with a particular focus on the Marine Projections including sea level rise, storm surges and waves. She will provide an insight into some of her recent research on assessing coastal risk to improve coastal climate resilience, helping people to stay safe and thrive.

12:20 – Panel: Q&A session

12:40 - 13:30 – Lunch

13:30 - 15:20 – Breakout sessions
Delegates will have the opportunity to choose to take part in three of the following tracks. A short break with refreshments will take place during this session also:

Respect the Water campaign

Session Organiser: 

Claire has been communicating water safety messages since 2015 through her role as campaigns manager at the Canal & River Trust and has developed a real passion for water safety. Claire recently launched a new Toddler Water Safety Week in February ’23, toddler safety being something she’s become all too aware of being the mum of a three-year-old. She is now Campaigns and Programme Manager (Public Safety) at the Trust and took over as chair of the NWSF comms group in January 2023.

The workshop will cover an overview of the Forum’s Respect the Water campaign which launched in July ’22.  You’ll also learn about the plans for how NWSF members can support the campaign going forward, as well as hearing about the ongoing campaigns from member organisations.

Waterside Responder

Session Organisers:

Tommy works within Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service’s Education and Engagement Department, where he is the lead for Open Water Safety.
He is a serving Firefighter and Swift Water Rescue Technician within Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service with 18 years of service, in addition to having been an active Water Safety Advocate for many Years.
In the 2018 New Year’s Honours, Tommy received his Queens Fire Service Medal for his passion and dedication in raising awareness of the dangers in and around open water throughout the UK.
Tommy collaborates with many organisations across the UK, including RoSPA, RNLI, RLSS and NFCC in their aims to deliver Life Saving Water Safety Awareness, and reducing the number of incidents and fatalities that occur in and around open water.

Nick works for the RNLI in the North and East of England, looking at all things Water Safety and Drowning Prevention. This includes supporting their volunteers at stations, staff members, and their seasonal beach lifeguards to help spread their Water Safety initiatives and messages to a wide audience.
Nick is a keen water enthusiast, often found in the sea in Suffolk, on the Boards inland water ways, or exploring new places abroad. In his spare time he coaches Surf lifesaving sport for his local lifesaving club Waveney SLSC, and lifeguard on the beach for the RNLI in the summer months.


The session will demonstrate how the Community Responder Programme was developed, it’s progression and how businesses can partner with the successful life- saving Initiative. A recording of a genuine Live Incident Call will be included. It will also launch the new Throwbag Sticker which will be utilised within the programme.

Water Safety Education across the Four Nations

Session Organisers:

Volunteers, supports, members and employees at RLSS UK are all working together to achieve a core purpose – to prevent drowning. RLSS UK are determined and committed to delivering a year-on-year reduction in the number of people losing their lives through drowning. Lee Heard, Charity Director at RLSS UK, has a strong background in community development initiatives and volunteering work, with a real passion for empowering people to make positive change in their communities. In recognising the Charity has a wealth of people with valuable skills, Lee works to ensure an honest and open culture, encouraging personal development for the benefit of everybody. Through adequate and timely support for people who represent the organisation – Lee’s team equips their members and supporters with the right tools, so the charity can proactively promote RLSS UK messages, training and education, nationwide. Lee, over the past 5 years, has led the charity to be targeted in their approach so that the charities resources can be distributed to create efficient, sustainable, and impactful interventions. This includes the development of new and exciting lifesaving pathways, awards and campaigns. Over the next business plan cycle, Lee and his team are focussing their attention on growing RLSS UKs brand and it’s diversity of supporters.


Working in Drowning Prevention, the RNLI Water Safety team works with dedicated RNLI volunteers and partners to reduce drowning. Our Water Safety volunteers engage with thousands of individuals across Scotland, providing key water safety advice. In 2022 we reached an estimated 11,805 children and young people across Scotland with consistent and clear lifesaving advice, delivering engaging workshops to develop understanding of dangers associated with water, and how to keep themselves and others safe. Furthermore, volunteers spoke to an additional 14,943 adults on a variety of water safety related issues, such as lifejacket clinics, activity-specific advice and emergency guidance. In July 2022 we marked World Drowning Prevention Day alongside partners such as the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, RoSPA, Scottish Water and Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park Rangers: this is indicative of a collaborative determination to reduce drowning.

The objectives of the Water Safety Scotland Education Subgroup are a reflection of this determination. The Education Subgroup works to contribute to the targets set out in Scotland’s Drowning Prevention Strategy (SDPS), which seeks to reduce accidental drowning deaths in Scotland by 50% by 2026 and reduce risk amongst the highest risk populations, groups and communities. The Education Subgroup acknowledges the influence and power that the education sector has in fostering safe behaviours in relation to water, therefore we are committed to supporting communities and schools with resource and guidance that will drive a generational change in water safety. The subgroup has created a suite of age and stage appropriate resources for the Curriculum for Excellence (Scottish Curriculum), supported by the Scottish Government. This is an important step in ensuring children and young people receive opportunities to develop understanding of water-related risk and crucial water safety messaging.


Hanna has worked for Swim Wales since 2009 firstly as Tutor delivering education courses as part of the Free Swimming Upskilling Project and before moving into the role of South East Wales Regional Manager; supporting Local Authorities, private providers and aquatic clubs in the region as well as being instrumental to national projects and developments. Now National Learn to Swim Manager, Hanna’s role is to focus specifically on her area of expertise - Learn to Swim, School Swimming and Water Safety and she is passionate about encouraging providers to provide a high quality, safe and fun environment for children to learn the vital life skills of water competence.

Hanna has been involved in aquatics in various capacities from a young age. A multiple British National butterfly finalist, moving on to being a National League Water Polo player, Open Water swimmer and more recently triathlete, volunteer, club committee member, official, teacher, coach, team manager, Development Officer, Tutor and Internal Verifier. Hanna has experience of most roles within the aquatic environment!


The Drowning and Incident Review – Scotland

Session Organisers:

James Sullivan is a Watch Commander in the Scottish Fire & Rescue Service’s National Water Safety Group. He joined the Fire Service in 2008 and in addition to firefighting roles has been a member of the Swift Water Rescue Teams in both Perth and Glasgow. He currently works to support Water Safety Scotland and has a direct role in delivering the aims of Scotland’s Drowning Prevention Strategy. James wrote and implemented the Partnership Approach to Water Safety (PAWS) framework and co-wrote the Drowning & Incident Review (DIR) with Carlene McAvoy of RoSPA, on behalf of Water Safety Scotland.

Carlene McAvoy is RoSPA’s Leisure Safety Manager who is currently working on the promotion and delivery of RoSPA’s water and leisure safety programme for the UK. Carlene is the founder and secretariat to Water Safety Scotland, and co-author of Scotland’s Drowning Prevention Strategy. Carlene also co-created the Drowning and Incident Review (DIR) with SFRS, and recently published research into DIR in BMJ Injury Prevention.

This workshop will provide attendees with an overview of the Drowning and Incident Review (DIR) in Scotland. DIR is a process that aims to gather data and understand the contributory factors of a water-related incident in order to help gain a better understanding of how to prevent similar incidents from occurring in the future. The process was created by Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) and RoSPA, and is led by Water Safety Scotland (WSS). Research into DIR was recently published in BMJ Injury Prevention:

Haverfordwest SUP – Learnings
Session Organisers:

Lee Pooley (Director of Coaching & Qualifications, British Canoeing)

Samantha Hughes (National Water Safety Partner, RNLI)

Bill Evans (Inspector of Marine Accidents, MAIB)
Working with Local Authorities

Session Organiser: David Walker (Head of Road and Leisure Safety, RoSPA)

Risk analysis & WAID

Session Organisers:

Martin Barwood is a Professor of Applied Environmental Physiology at Leeds Trinity University, North Yorkshire. His research group focusses on developing an evidence base to inform drowning prevention interventions including recommending changes to drowning prevention policy and strategy. His recent work has audited the fatal incident data from the UK’s Water Incident Database (WAID) in meeting key steps of the World Health organization’s 2017 drowning prevention implementation guide. The work has recognized WAID as a rigorous and transparent database for documenting fatal drowning events but also provides onward recommendations to enhance the secondary data quality to inform research and prevention of future UK drowning events; an enhanced version of WAID was launched in 2023.

More recently Martin’s research group has focused on the use of secondary data combined with geospatial statistical and mapping techniques to study the nuanced nature of drowning with a view to targeting prevention efforts toward specific high-priority areas. His group has also undertaken work to consider key differences between drowning events in-land compared to coastal locations and in unintentional compared to intentional drownings. His presentation will share these recent learnings with a view to supporting drowning prevention efforts nationally and internationally.

Martin is a member of the International Drowning Researchers’ Alliance (IDRA) and is honoured to be the public health representative on the UK’s National Water Safety Forum.

With a background as a software engineer Jennifer started out writing code for submarines, but quickly found a love of all things data. Over the past 10 years Jennifer has moved from building large scale GIS systems to researching geospatial linked data, leading the development of new data products at Ordnance Survey, delivered innovative new data and analytics solutions in the Utilities industry, and now drives data adoption and strategy at The Maritime and Coastguard Agency.

This workshop will provide attendees with an overview of the Water Incident Database (WAID) and its recent use in assessing and managing risk. We will describe research findings from an audit of WAID and how this has shaped the future of how we collect fatal and non-fatal drowning data in the UK. We will show you recent research that has utilised WAID data to identify priority locations for drowning prevention. We will also discuss future priorities for research and want to hear your views on this as part of the session.

15:20 – Q&A round-up

15:30 – Close of conference

16:00 – Delegates are invited to join us for drinks at the Owain Glyndwr, 10 Saint John Street, Cardiff, CF10 1GL



If you are interested in exhibiting at the RoSPA National Water Safety Conference 2023, please email Kate Jermey, Events Manager, [email protected]

Aspli Safety Ltd

Aspli Safety Ltd has over forty years’ experience in the purchase, sale and service of safety products. These include PPE, Water Safety, Signage, Fire Equipment, Workwear and Site Equipment. We are proud to represent several major brands such as Secumar Lifejackets. We export to many countries around the world including Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Australia and the continent of Europe.

Having 40 years of experience we offer more than just products. We provide customised solutions that are amongst the most innovative in the industry. We design, test and assemble here in Leeds or work with our long-established partners to design and supply the bespoke product to meet your specific needs.

Recent projects include lockable Water Rescue Stations for both Throw bags and Lifebuoys and tanks to control of EV fires helping to prevent thermal runaway. Additionally, we have developed an asset tagging system and web platform that can be attached to PPE such as lifejackets. A simple scan with a modern mobile device brings up information such as serial number, service date, expiry date and instructional documentation and videos.

For more information, please visit or contact Simon Errington [email protected].


Maritime and Coastguard Agency

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) works to prevent the loss of life on the coast and at sea. HM Coastguard is part of the MCA and is the UK’s national maritime emergency service, responsible for the initiation and co-ordination of all maritime search and rescue within the UK.



Restube is for professionals by water and people in water. A small subtle pouch is always ready to activate up to 70 Newtons of buoyancy in a fast inflated tube. The German-designed and manufactured range features specific products for lifeguards, aquatic professionals, swimmers, stand-up paddleboarders and even rescue drones.

For professional users, the Restube range can be worn on the person by a lifeguard, meaning they have immediate access to a rescue device but without the bulk or weight traditionally experienced with other methods. Other services such as police and fire are able to access the automatic inflation version, which stows well within emergency vehicles and kit bags.

Restube has received support from organisations like DLRG, German Red Cross and others. The Swiss Lifesaving Association SLRG approves the Restube Lifeguard as official operating equipment. The Royal Life Saving Society UK has included Restube Automatic in their Emergency Response Drone Pilot Award.

Knowing that there was a significant opportunity for a product like this in the UK, the RLSS UK President at the time made it a personal mission to bring the lifesaving tool into the country. You can find out more about from Mark Smith at [email protected] and visit



Solareye is a family-owned company and one of the UK’s leading suppliers of high-quality solar lighting. Our flagship product, the Solareye80, is an innovative solar powered ground light which was designed to facilitate safe wayfinding in off-grid areas. Solareye80s have been installed in many waterside locations including canal paths and marinas to allow pedestrians to keep a safe distance from the water’s edge. With our warm white colour option and ‘Bat Hat’ edition, which minimises upward light spillage, Solareye80s are eco-friendly too.
Constructed from industrial grade polycarbonate and compression tested to 55 tonnes, Solareye80 solar ground lights are certified IP68 waterproof and IK10 impact resistant, making them the practical, economic and sustainable wayfinding lighting solution you’ve been looking for.
We have over 30 years in the traffic, cycle and pedestrian safety industries and a history of product design, sourcing, and accreditation. We’re proud of what we do and how we do it; making pedestrian walkways, cycle paths and public amenities safer for people to go about their daily business or enjoy the things they love.


Water Safety Scotland

Water Safety Scotland is a voluntary association of organisations and individuals whose main purpose is to understand the risks around water in Scotland and engage with partners to develop a consistent approach to the prevention of water related fatalities. Membership of Water Safety Scotland is diverse and includes representation from over 50 relevant agencies and organisations across Scotland. Key outputs of Water Safety Scotland include (but are not limited to): educational materials for use at every level of the Scottish curriculum, the Drowning and Incident Review (a major step development in the systematic review of drowning fatalities) and the development of Partnership Approach to Water Safety (PAWS) groups in the majority of local authorities in Scotland.


Getting there

By Road

The following car parks are located close by to the Radisson Blu:


By Rail

The Radisson Blu is only a 350m walk from Cardiff Central Station (via Custom House Street), or a 650m walks from Cardiff Queen Street Train Station.


By Air

The Radisson Blu is located 25km from Cardiff Airport. There are regular buses from the airport to the hotel that take about 50 minutes. You will be dropped off within a few hundred metres of the hotel. If you choose to drive from the airport, the A4232 is typically the fastest route.



For guests wishing to stay, the Radisson Blu are offering a discounted rate for bedrooms the evening prior, and evening of, the conference. These are at a rate of £94.00 B&B for Single Occupancy, and £104.00 B&B for Double Occupancy.

To take advantage of these rates, either ring 02920 454 777, or email [email protected], and please quote either RoSPA Allocation, or Reference Number: MB0000333115.

 Alternatively, the following hotels are located close by: