Aylesbury MP calls for more warning signs on beaches after death of Bucks girl

A 12-year-old drowned at Bournemouth Beach in May
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Aylesbury’s MP has called for more warning signs to placed on beaches following the shocking death of a girl from Buckinghamshire in May.

Rob Butler led a special debate in the House of Commons on water safety ahead of the school break.

On 31 May, Sunnah Khan, a 12-year-old from High Wycombe, was airlifted to hospital.

Rob Butler speaking in Westminster Hall, photo from Parliament TVRob Butler speaking in Westminster Hall, photo from Parliament TV
Rob Butler speaking in Westminster Hall, photo from Parliament TV

She died in hospital with an inquest revealing the Bucks schoolgirl had drowned. Another boy, Joe Abbess, a 17-year-old Southampton, drowned on Bournemouth beach that day.

Sunnah’s mum, Stephanie Williams, lives in Mr Butler’s constituency and was in Parliament to hear the debate.

It is suspected that a rip current dragged the youngsters away from the shore.

Aylesbury’s MP, who spoke with the Royal Life Saving Society before delivering his speech, said: “Rip currents are water that flows from the shoreline back out to sea; the advice to escape them is to try to swim parallel to the shore until out of the current, and then head back to the shore.

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“One way to alert children and adults about risks of rip currents would be with increased provision of signs at the beach. After all, if you see a sign immediately before entering the water, the advice will be very fresh in the mind. The RNLI does have a standard sign that can be used to warn about rip currents and I’ve been pleased to learn that it is used in many places, but there is undoubtedly scope for even more prominent displays of warnings."

Another piece of safety advice delivered by the MP regarded the clothing swimmers choose to wear. He added: “There is a strong case for water safety to be taught to children in particular, and the obvious place to do so is at school. Worryingly, the Royal Life Saving Society reports that children from low-income and ethnically diverse households are particularly less likely to access statutory school swimming.”

Mr Butler ended his speech by by quoting Stephanie Williams, who had told him: “We can do better; there’s no need for this to keep happening; it’s preventable; if we teach it at school, we are setting them up for a lifetime of safe water.”