THE mum of tragic Bromsgrove student Tom Jones says their family are “still in shock” nine months after his death.

Vicki Jones’ heart-wrenching comments came as Tom’s parents pledged their support and donated money to the Royal Life Saving Society (RLSS) UK’s Drowning Prevention Week initiative.

First-year University of Worcester student Tom, 18, drowned in the River Severn in September after a night out drinking with friends. An inquest earlier this year recorded an open verdict on his death.

Vicki said her family have been devastated by their loss: “Even now, nine months on, some days it still feels like it was yesterday, we think we are still in shock.

“We function and go through the motions on a day-to-day basis because there is no option.

“It is difficult to socialise and try to be who we were before we lost Tom because we know we never will be.

“We have fantastic support around us from friends and family but even just the routine things take all our strength, we know things will never be the same again.”

Malvern Gazette: Vicki Jones, Tom’s mum meets Ali Gray, RLSS UK senior fundraising manager, by the River Severn to donate funds raised for the charity’s drowning prevention work. Vicki Jones, Tom’s mum meets Ali Gray, RLSS UK senior fundraising manager, by the River Severn to donate funds raised for the charity’s drowning prevention work.

Following Tom’s tragic death, friends and well-wishers helped raise a staggering £9,000, which the family have split between charities and organisations that have supported them.

Vicki recently met with RLSS staff to donate £850 which will be used to help deliver the charity’s drowning prevention projects.

“They were there for us, so it’s important that we’re there for them,” Vicki said.

“RLSS UK was the first place I went to when it happened. I used to drive past the office all the time so I went onto their website to try and understand how it could have happened.

“Tom was a strong swimmer and I kept thinking, this couldn’t have happened, he couldn’t have drowned.

“But the information on the website helped me understand. It showed me the affect alcohol can have on the body and how cold water can stop muscles from working properly. And the undercurrent where he fell in would have been so strong.

“I wasn’t in a good place but this initial contact with the charity made a difference. They’ve been so supportive since and I think working with them to deliver water safety messages, will help me in the future.”

Vicki is urging everyone to contact their local leisure centres this week (June 14-24) to find out what activities are being run during Drowning Prevention Week, so they can learn how to stay safe near water.

She added: “Tom was faced with lots of options that night, he could have walked back with his flat mates, he could have used the free transport that the University offered from town to the campus but he decided to walk back alone.

“If only he had taken the decision to return to the campus with the others or by using the transport, instead of choosing to walk home alone, this would never have happened.”

Vicki and her Ian are thanking everyone who helped raise the £9,000, in particular Tom’s friend Harley Hetherington who set up a Just Giving page and Bromsgrove Sporting FC who held a memorial match.

The final amount was divided up to support: RLSS UK, Edwards Trust, SARA (Severn Area Rescue Association), UK Missing Person’s Unit, West Midlands Search and Rescue and Primrose Hospice.

Robert Gofton, RLSS UK CEO said: “We are so grateful to Vicki for her very generous donation. Tom’s accident is a total tragedy and we can’t begin to imagine what Vicki and her family are going through.

“We can only hope her courage and support will help stop other families from going through the same thing.

“Most people are surprised to learn that you are more likely to die from drowning than from being hit by a car or in a fire.

“We believe that the majority of drowning incidents can be prevented and urge people take part in their local DPW activities and learn how to stay safe and have fun near water.”