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Water safety pioneer Donna Loveland receives Queen’s Birthday Honour

Swim Safe coordinator Donna Loveland has received a British Empire Medal in the Queen’s Birthday Honours – after raising thousands of pounds in her brother’s memory to fund free water safety sessions for thousands of youngsters.

In February 2015, Andrew McGeown, 32, lost his life after entering the North Sea in Scarborough’s South Bay whilst attempting to save his dog.

Donna set up the Andrew McGeown Legacy Fund in his name, with the intention of funding the Swim Safe programme in her local area.

Her tireless dedication has seen her raise more than £45,000 for the Andrew McGeown Legacy Fund and Swim Safe, whilst also promoting water safety and the dangers of the coast through local awareness campaigns, marketing and school visits.

Swim Safe was created by Swim England and the RNLI in 2013 to help children aged 7-14 stay safe while enjoying swimming outdoors – and more than 4,500 children have taken part in the sessions at Scarborough and Bridlington in the last five years.

Donna said: “It was a real shock but also a nice surprise that I will be receiving the British Empire Medal.

“Fundraising in my brother’s memory has given my family a positive focus after Andrew’s death.

“The Swim Safe programme has been very successful. It’s a pleasure to be able to deliver such a valuable programme, and hopefully we will save many lives through the educational sessions.

“Andrew will always be remembered and loved thanks to the great legacy created with RLNI and Swim England and everyone who has supported us.”

Committed volunteer

Ashley Jones, Water Safety and Drowning Prevention Manager at Swim England, praised the work of Donna.

He said: “Donna’s enthusiasm and selflessness are an inspiration to many.

“She has thoroughly earned this accolade for her commitment to saving lives on the Yorkshire coast, from raising tens of thousands of pounds for the Andrew McGeown Legacy Fund to delivering the Swim Safe programme in Scarborough and Bridlington.

“Donna continually goes above and beyond to enable thousands of youngsters to benefit from free Swim Safe sessions.

“I am proud and privileged to work alongside such a committed volunteer and everyone at Swim England is thrilled she has been recognised with this deserving honour.”

RNLI Chief Executive, Mark Dowie said: “It is such a delight to see Donna recognised for her hard work and commitment, particularly as we near the end of such a challenging year.

“Her story truly represents the RNLI values through her dedication, support and courage, helping to keep thousands of children safe along the Yorkshire coast.

“On behalf of everyone at the RNLI, I send Donna my heartfelt congratulations and gratitude.”