Grandfather of tragic Presley Stockton calls for free swimming lessons for toddlers

A grieving man is calling on the town hall to provide free toddler swimming lessons following the tragic death of his beloved grandson.

Tuesday, 30th October 2018, 7:53 am
Updated Tuesday, 30th October 2018, 8:58 am
Mike Jolley with his grandson Presley Stockton

Mike Jolley, from Hindley, wants to highlight the importance of learning to swim after his four-year-old Presley Stockton drowned whilst on a family holiday.

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Mike said: "We still don't know whether he slipped into the water or jumped in thinking he had his arm bands on.

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"Just a few minutes before he'd been speaking to my wife on Face Time and showing her around the place. His dad had literally just sat back as Presley was busy chatting and the next thing he knew he'd disappeared and all hell broke lose."

Mike, 49, said his grandson, who had just started at St Peter’s CE Primary School in Hindley, had been taken to the swimming baths as an infant - but had never properly learned how to swim.

He said: “When I was a child it was compulsory to take swimming lessons, even at nursery. It should be like that now.

“There should be more funding for youngsters of a pre-school age.

“Presley had been for lessons a couple of times but they weren’t proper lessons it was more that he was taken to the baths as a toddler.

“My daughters were taken for swimming lessons religiously by my mum. She never liked swimming herself because of an incident when she was younger but she made it her priority and she had the time to do it.

“Everyone lives such busy lives now, I guess swimming lessons seem to have slipped off the radar.

“A lot of the time both parents have to work, people can’t afford the time off or to take their children for lessons.

“I want to do this for Presley. I want to make people more aware of the importance of learning how to swim.

“It seems to be something that has been forgotten about.”

Mike, an ex-member of the Royal Signals, is hoping to lobby the Government to provide more funding for preschool swimming lessons so that no other family has to suffer like his has.

His campaign has been backed by Makerfield MP Yvonne Fovargue, who said: “This would be a fitting tribute to the memory of Presley.

“Swimming is a vital life skill that helps to keep people fit and healthy but also teaches children how to stay safe in and around water.

“I agree that every child should be able to swim and be confident in the water.”

Last week the Department for Education announced a new £320m funding scheme to help all children learn to swim before they leave primary school.

However Mike believes that youngsters should possess the vital skill before starting school.

“Part of the children’s services programme in Wigan should include swimming lessons from an earlier age,” he said. “There are programmes to help parents make sure their children have basic skills and I believe swimming should be part of that.”

As part of the new DfE scheme, primary schools in England are set to receive extra support and improved guidance to help make sure all children can swim confidently and know how to stay safe in and around water.

Wigan Council has said that the authority would like to offer more swimming lessons but would need more financial backing from the Government for this to be made possible.

Inspiring Healthy Lifestyles, which provides sport programmes for the borough, currently offers "swim tots and parents" classes at £5.50 a session for one adult and one child.

Pete Burt, managing director for Inspiring Healthy Lifestyles, said: “Learning to swim is a vitally important skill and we offer a range of swimming sessions for children from the age of four months at a number of our pools across the borough.

“These sessions are very competitively priced compared to private providers and for preschool-aged children aim to develop water confidence and basic movement skills.

“We would welcome any further funding from Government towards providing swimming lessons to children.”

For more information about children’s swimming lessons in Wigan visit Inspiring Healthy Lifestyles' website