‘My son drowned and when I saw his body I leaned over and made him a promise’

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Leeanne Bartley promised her son Mark, who died aged 18, she would fight to improve safety in Wales as his legacy

A mum whose teenage son drowned in a reservoir vowed to him she would fight on in his memory to stop others from suffering the same fate.

Determined Leeanne Bartley has thousands of people backing her campaign to place throwline stations around open water in Wales to prevent such tragedies. The mum-of-six was left heartbroken following the loss of her student son, Mark Allen, and is now fighting for a Mark Allen’s Law in his memory.

Leeanne, who lives in Ruthin, said: “We weren’t able to see Mark until two days after he died. When I saw him I leaned over and made a promise I would do all I can to fight to make things safer for other people. I feel like it’s so important and so worthwhile as Mark wanted to change his little world.

“He was always trying to get people to feel better. By me carrying on in this way it’s a positive legacy for him. We are trying to get a law passed that places throwline stations around all bodies of open water in Wales. It’s hard but I do not give up.”

Mark, who was 18 when he died on June 5, 2018, had been out with a gang of five or six friends when they had been wading in the water.

He didn’t think twice as he leapt off a pipe-style bridge.

But at the same time, Leeanne added: “He climbed over the fence and onto a huge pipe and jumped 10 foot into the water. He knew that it was obviously dangerous. The dangers of reservoirs are not really taught in schools. Wales is a lot more rural, it’s only taught as a problem when you lose a life.”

Every year 400 lives are lost across the UK through drowning. Leeanne hopes that more people could be saved with the installation of throwline stations by open water.

These stations provide quick access rescue equipment (throwlines) to help anyone who might find themselves in difficulties in the water.

The throwlines are stored securely to avoid vandalism, with an access code given to callers by 999 operators in the event of an emergency.

She’s now getting lots of support for her campaign.

“So far, we’ve had 2,061 signatures (on the petition) when I last checked.”

Leeanne, who is married to David, 45, said her world turned upside down when she lost Mark, who had a passion for acting and had a role as an extra in the BBC series Wanderlust.

He was a football fan and would play for his local team and was also a fan of wrestling.

Three months before he died, Leanne had suffered from a kidney infection, which developed into sepsis and she was unable to walk for six to eight weeks.

She said Mark had his fatal accident three days before he had been due to visit her.

She says of the day of his planned visit: “I was sat out in my garden hoping he would be there at the gates, I was working in the field at the back of my house.

“I would continuously look into the field even though I knew he wasn’t going to come back.

“He was extremely talented, very funny but extremely caring, an amazing brother to his five sisters.

“He was a peacekeeper and whenever anyone was down he was just there for them trying to pick them up and make them feel better.

“When it’s your child the world stops and you are screaming internally at everyone.”

She added: “Mark’s Law would mean the absolute world, I want him to be remembered.

“I suppose it’s doing what I’m doing is what drives me on, that’s how I see it.

“I made him a promise and I won’t break it.”

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