IN a massive display of community spirit, the people of Eyemouth have united in their support for a mission to make the town’s beach a safer place for all concerned.
And that is also a priority for Scottish Borders Council who say they “owe it” to Katie MacLean – the girl who was critically injured after being swept into the sea in June – to get their review into water safety in the region right.
At the start of last week there were no lifebelts at the stretch of the beach used by both locals and tourists but now there are three, and the man behind the scheme is confident there will be another three in place by the end of next week.
Although he doesn’t know her or her family personally, Brian Judd was so affected by the plight of 14-year-old Katie, that he took it upon himself to get something done to drastically improve water safety in Eyemouth.
He initially went to Scottish Borders Council but then decided to go down the alternative route of issuing a rallying call to his fellow residents and they have certainly answered loud and clear.
Thanks to a public demonstration of the first lifebelt last week and word of the campaign spreading rapidly on social networking sites, everyone from local businesses, individuals and schoolchildren have lent their support either financially or with their time, leaving Brian taken aback by the response to his plans – which started with him Googling ‘lifebelt’ to find out how to order one online.
“Without any exceptions everyone I’ve spoken to has pledged their support in some way,” he said. “People have been so touched by what happened to Katie and understand what we are trying to do. Vandalism has been an issue in the past with lifebelts but I wholeheartedly believe that in light of what has happened it won’t be again.
“After Jamie Battison drowned last summer, 12 lifebelts went up around the harbour area, and from what I’ve heard they’ve remained untouched.”
Bar the belt bought from the internet, all of the lifebelts for Eyemouth beach are coming from the Fishermen’s Mutual Association, and Brian thanked them and others who have been working hard to bring them up to standard as well as Scottish Borders Council, who have allowed him and other concerned residents to put up lifebelts while they carry out their own safety review.
Discussing this and praising the people of Eyemouth for their efforts so far, a council spokesperson said: “Scottish Borders Council’s Emergency Planning Officer and Director of Environment & Infrastructure have set up a review group within SBC to carry out the review of water safety in the region.
“As a matter of priority we are continuing to keep Katie’s family informed of this work.