Lifebelt design winners announced

Steve Jackson, Gill Mercer, Sue Cant and Insp Inam Khan with the winning designs
Steve Jackson, Gill Mercer, Sue Cant and Insp Inam Khan with the winning designs

A competition for young people to design a picture which will help prevent vandalism of lifesaving equipment along the River Nene had more than 270 entries.

The competition was launched as part of a drowning-prevention project by East Northamptonshire Council, the Environment Agency and Northamptonshire County Council.

The challenge was for under 18s to design a message and/or a picture that will make a vandal or thief think twice before tampering with lifebelts at locks and weirs. This equipment costs thousands of pounds and theft or vandalism of it puts lives in danger.

A panel of judges including East Northamptonshire Council chairman Gill Mercer, Steve Jackson, schools swimming manager at Northamptonshire County Council, Sue Cant, who is the Nene and Lincolnshire waterways manager at the Environment Agency and Inspector Inam Khan, sector commander at Northamptonshire Police, had the difficult task of selecting six winners who will have their design published and used in the centre of lifebelts available along the River Nene in East Northamptonshire. Each winner will also receive an Amazon voucher.

The winners were Zoe Brabant and Charlotte Rapkin, from Rushden Community College, Simone Masters and Emily Vincent, who go to Huxlow and produced a joint design, as did Louis Hankins with Molly Schulze, and Allysha Lane with Shannon Calder. Georgia Russell was also declared a winner. Highly commended awards went to Maia Warren of Rushden Community College, and Megan Roberts, Beth Fisher and Sinead O’Callaghan, all from Huxlow.

Cllr Gill Mercer said: “It was very difficult to choose from so many excellent designs. There were some very good strong messages even from the ones that didn’t win.”

Inspector Inam Khan added: “Schools should be commended for the high quality of designs and the effort that has been put in.”

Sue Cant said: “We were really pleased to see such a high standard and variety of designs. The winning ones will be displayed at lock sites where people will see them and take notice of the messages. Well done to all of those who took part.”

The chosen designs will be put on the lifebelt holders on June 19, ready for National Drowning Prevention Week which runs from June 21-29.

For information on Drowning Prevention Week, visit