A HARD-HITTING film aimed at driving home the message of The Press’s Think, Don’t Swim campaign is being premiered today at York’s City Screen cinema.

Bartender Richard Horrocks, 21, drowned in the Ouse after jumping into the water from a balcony close to the riverside cinema in July.

He was the third person to die in York’s rivers so far this year, and his death prompted The Press to launch its campaign to raise awareness of the dangers of jumping or falling in the water. The campaign has also included the launch of posters and beer mats carrying the campaign message.

City Screen marketing manager Dave Taylor said it was pleased to host the screening, which is an invitation-only event.

He said Richard had been known to some of the cinema’s staff and added: “In the summer, we occasionally see people being urged to leap into the river and try to swim across, and there’s clearly a danger.”

The short film, made by film-maker Christopher David, of York-based, award-winning Flash Frame Productions, includes emotional interviews with Richard’s mother, Vicki, and sister, Abbi, about the devastating impact of his death on the family.

There are also interviews with York councillor Ian Gillies about his experience in dealing with bodies in the rivers many years ago when he was a coroner’s officer, and with former firefighter and diver Steve Fila, director of technical services at Commercial Diving and Marine Services, of Appleton Roebuck, about the dangers of the river.

All the interviews were conducted in the sombre setting of a funeral parlour in Bishophill, provided by Cooperative Funeralcare.

The film also features a short fictional dramatisation about a young man who meets a young woman in a nightclub, with the roles played by Cary Galia and Michelle Cousins.

The pair walk alongside the Ouse and then the man goes skinny dipping in the river, with tragic consequences. Nightclub Salvation agreed for a scene to be filmed in its premises.

Mr David, who has won 22 national and international awards for his films, has revealed previously how he had been moved to tears for the first time in his career when he was interviewing Mrs Horrocks.

He said he had two children of his own, and could not imagine the pain and suffering any family must feel when they lost a loved one so tragically.

* The Press' sincere thanks go to Christopher David, Vicki and Abbi Horrocks, Steve Fila, Ian Gillies, Cary Galia, Michelle Cousins, Salvation, Cooperative Funeralcare and everyone else involved in the making of the film.

York Press: The Press - Comment

Powerful message in bid to save lives

THE powerful image on our front page today of gravestones appearing to rise out of the River Ouse says more than a thousand words could about the dangers of swimming in the river.

The image comes from a hard-hitting film being premiered today which aims to drive home the message of The Press’s Think, Don’t Swim campaign.

That message is simple. The Ouse may look placid: but it is cold, and the swirling currents make it extremely dangerous. Three people have died in its waters already this year. We don’t want there to be any more.

In the short film, the mother and sister of bartender Richard Horrocks are seen talking about how his death devastated the family. Richard drowned after jumping into the Ouse from a balcony near City Screen. The film makes for painful viewing. We make no apologies for that. We want it to save lives.

We also carry today a report of an inquest into the death of 26-year-old Paul Rogerson, who drowned after falling from Ouse Bridge while on a night out. It is another desperately sad story, which underlines once again why we launched our campaign.

The Ouse can seem very tempting at night: particularly if you’ve had a few to drink.

But to those who might one day find themselves tempted, we say: please, please, please, think of what happened to Richard and Paul. And then walk away.

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