NEWCASTLE Emlyn has come together following the death of Jem Pendragon to raise awareness of the dangers of swimming in the river.

Jem, 22, drowned in the River Teifi a year ago after going swimming after he had been drinking and taking drugs.

But now the town has teamed up with Carmarthenshire Water Safety Partnership to raise awareness among youngsters of the potential dangers and has raised money to put up signs and lifebuoys.

“When Jem died, me and my husband Wayne said it would be good to raise some money in the community towards the funeral costs and also to get life buoys and warning signs up in the castle grounds next to the river as there is nothing there. It all just grew from that,” said Steph Hixon-Hand from Winnie’s at No.11.

“We did not want to put up any signs until we got into the schools and educated youngsters otherwise they will get vandalised.

“That’s when we got in touch with Carmarthenshire Water Safety Partnership (CWSP) and Adam Whitehouse. We met up with them and went around the castle and there were kids swimming in the river then.

“Adam has donated the sign at the beach and a lifebuoy and it will be covered by a CCTV camera.”

Jem’s mum Paris has given her blessing to the scheme and Steph is backing the call for water safety to be introduced to schools.

“CWSP has got a curriculum together that they will be taking to the Welsh Assembly. England already has a law passed to have water safety as part of the national curriculum,” she said.

“Newcastle Emlyn will be the fifth town in the county to sign up to the scheme. We will be going round with a hard copy petition, talking to people face-to-face to raise awareness.

“I have three older daughters and a younger daughter and they all swam where Jem swam. This is all about educating our kids. Ideally they should not swim in the river and if it saves just one life it will make a big difference.

“The exams are coming to an end and the kids will be straight in the river if it’s hot. It’s all about educating them and making them aware of the dangers, both in the home and at school.”

“The community has been fantastic in getting behind this project and it has been a massive effort. I would like to thank everyone for getting involved and getting the message across to the kids.”