A petition by a bereaved mother from Ruthin, to prevent drowning at open water sites, has been named the Senedd’s Petition of the Year.
The campaign was launched by Leeanne Bartley from Ruthin in 2022 after her son, Mark Allen (pictured), died after jumping into cold water at a reservoir.
The petition gained over 11,000 signatures, prompting an inquiry by the Senedd’s Petitions Committee into ways to prevent accidents by drowning in Wales. As a result, the Welsh Government committed to a range of measures to improve water safety such as appointing a specific Minister to lead on drowning prevention and developing a water safety awareness campaign.
By bringing this important issue to the attention of politicians, through the Senedd Petition’s process, Leeanne Bartley succeeded in bringing about real change in Wales and earned a place on the Petition of the Year shortlist.
Following a public vote, the ‘Mark Allen’s Law’ petition was declared the Petition of the Year in the Senedd’s Petitions Committee meeting on Monday 3 July.
Leeanne Bartley said, “Winning Petition of the Year means everything to my family and I. Mark always wanted to help others, and we want him to be remembered for how he lived his life. Our petition continues his legacy – and will save lives.”
“The Welsh Government have taken our campaign on board and have agreed to make some important changes. But there is more to be done, and I believe that educating children and young people about water safety, and things like the ‘float to live’ campaign, will save lives.”
"The petition process has been incredibly helpful, and we’ve received excellent support from the Committee. If you’re passionate about something I would definitely recommend starting a petition if you want to make a difference. Go for it!”
Jack Sargeant MS, Chair of Senedd Petitions Committee, said, “Congratulations to Leeanne Bartley and all those who have supported - and continue to support - their campaign for water safety.
“Leeanne has worked tirelessly to promote her campaign and brought people together to make change happen. It’s no surprise that the people of Wales have picked it as our Petition of the Year.”
“I hope that people who are inspired to make a change will look to the petitions process as a way of getting their voice heard in Wales.”
The Senedd petitions process encourages people to collect signatures for a campaign close to their heart. If a petition reaches 250 signatures, it is discussed by the Petitions Committee and they can commission a report analysing the issue in more detail. If over 10,000 people sign a petition, it is considered for a debate in the Senedd and discussed by Wales’ top politicians.
Between April 2022 and March 2023, the Committee received 187 petitions with nearly 130,000 people in Wales offering their signature in support of a cause.
Of those 187 petitions, Members of the Committee nominated five for the Petitions of the Year shortlist, capturing the wide variety of subjects that people in Wales have campaigned for over the last year. People were invited to show their support through a vote on social media.
The nominated petitions called for: