Dive in to a safety story

MARIE TURBILL meets the Teesside grandad who is helping keep kids water safe this summer.

Clive Wormald is hoping to make a splash in the world of children’s entertainment. So he has dived in by writing a book that focuses on water safety. He hopes the tale of Dave the Diver will be the first of many.

“It is written for children with the aim of reaching parents too,” says Clive of Norton. As a grandad himself he knows how important it is to keep children safe. And, he says, water danger is something that can easily be overlooked.

“Just this year there was a guy who died in Sussex after going into the sea to rescue children on an inflatable,” he says. “He got the children back to safety but died himself.”

Clive, 60, says you hear these stories all too often, from those getting caught out at sea, to tragedies in a garden pond or even the bath tub. The grandad-of-three hopes to address all these hazards in his new series of Dave the Diver books.

The first, Dave the Diver Dinghy Danger, focuses on the dangers of inflatables at sea. “We used to go camping in Cornwall and it was then I realised how easy it is for them to blow away,” says Clive, who has two grown up children, Scott and Claire, and three grandchildren, Mia, nine, Millen, six and Jude, four. “I would stand in the sea with the children holding the rope so they couldn’t drift away.”

He says it is looking to his own grandchildren that inspired him to write. “I have never been a writer or even much of a reader, but I used to make up bedtime stories for the children.” The idea of writing a story to deliver a water safety message came during a holiday in Spain. “My granddaughter, Mia, was only three at the time and I remember being in the pool and thinking to myself, how could I stop her falling in and drowning.” That was the start of the idea and it took another six years to develop, eventually resulting in the self published book on sale today.

“I needed to come up with my own character,” says Clive who works for inspection firm, Oceaneering. It was his wife Sandra who suggested Dave the Diver and Clive teamed up with Guisborough illustrator Nigel Dobbyn. Dinghy Danger is the result. The book includes water safety tips from the RNLI and a quiz to see what children, and parents, have learned. “Water can be so much fun, particularly in the summer, but it is so important to be aware of the dangers,” says Clive.

And it’s not just about teaching children how to swim. “According to the latest figures from WAID (Water Incident Database) 50% of children that drown can actually swim. “It’s not just about teaching them to swim, it is teaching them the limits of their ability.” That includes understanding things like rip tides, the fact that they can’t swim against the tide and the dangers of cold water.

And parents need to know the facts too. “One common misconception is the way in which children drown,” says Clive. “People think they splash about and shout for help, but the reality is they often don’t have the breath to shout, and within 15 to 20 seconds they have drowned.”

He says if his books can help save even one life it will have been more than worthwhile.

Dave the Diver Dinghy Danger is now available from Waterstone’s, Middlesbrough, and www.ypdbooks.com, priced £4.99. A percentage of each sale will go to the RNLI.

www.gazettelive.co.uk         Monday August 6 2012