1977. Brendon Prince
Brendon Prince, from Torquay, is a former lifeguard who created water safety charity ‘Above Water’ to improve awareness of accidental drowning after being unable to save three surfers in trouble at sea.
Since 2017, Brendon has visited over 5,000 schools giving free school-water safety sessions, with many of these sessions involving practical swimming workshops designed to build water confidence, improve swimming technique and share drowning prevention skills. He also runs tutorials on aquatic-related first aid to better equip people in lifesaving skills and shares guidance on how to stay safe while undertaking water-based activities, such as cold water swimming and surfing. In 2021, Brendon further created ‘The Long Paddle’ campaign, circumnavigating mainland Britain on a stand-up paddle board to not only raise awareness of unnecessary drownings in the UK, but also fundraise for the development of the world’s first ever free water safety app.
In a personal letter to Brendon, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said:
“Every year we hear such tragic stories of families losing loved ones who were swimming or playing on the ice. So I wanted to write personally to thank you for all the work you are doing to improve water safety in our country.
“Through your charity, Above Water, you have worked in thousands of schools, delivered training in aquatic first aid and provided children with water confidence sessions to improve their swimming ability.
“I know you have also been raising awareness of water safety through your world recording-breaking campaign, The Long Paddle, circumnavigating the entire British Isles by paddleboard. It is a truly incredible feat.”
Kevin Foster MP for Torbay said:
“Brendon is a shining example of community spirit and this recognition is well earned. He has turned an experience of tragedy into a determination to make a difference by raising awareness about water safety and ensuring more people have the skills they need to stay safe.”
“This award is an honour. It’s always a joy to be recognised for hard work but more importantly helps to raise even more awareness for water safety and drowning prevention.”