Parents of Scottish girl who drowned in pool accident set up swimming foundation – HeraldScotland | WHs Answers

THEY had just been living their dream life for two years, having left Glasgow for a new adventure in South Africa.

Kirsty and James Doig and their three children enjoyed the sunny days and outdoor opportunities.

The couple had made swimming lessons a priority when starting their new life in Cape Town, knowing their children would take full advantage of a pool.

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However, this was not enough to prevent the tragic drowning of their beloved daughter, Darcey. She was just three years old when she drowned in a pool incident on Valentine’s Day 2020.

Darcey Doig loved swimming and being outdoors

“There was an incident at the swimming pool when two children collided,” Ms. Doig said. “One had a broken nose that was bleeding and at that time Darcey was still in the water. She loved swimming to the bottom and collecting things, and we’ll never know for sure what happened that day, whether something happened before or during the collision, but she tragically died that day.

“When we knew we were moving to South Africa we made sure Darcey and Hunter could swim and I was pregnant with Lachlann at the time we moved.

“Darcey was a ray of sunshine from the moment she was born. Her big brother insisted we call her Sunshine and it was one of her middle names. She spent hours in the pool and was a good swimmer, but we came sad to learn that it wasn’t enough.”

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In memory of Darcey, James and Kirsty established the Darcey Sunshine Foundation to educate South African schools about water safety.

The charity’s ethos is that while there is no cure for drowning, there is education to prevent it.

About 800 people die by drowning in South Africa every year. According to the country’s National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI), three-quarters of the deaths are children aged five to 15, who are most at risk.

HeraldScotland: A swim program in her memory, launched in 2021A swimming program in her memory started in 2021

Looking ahead to the third year of the foundation program in 2023, they are holding a fundraiser in Glasgow on November 3rd.

The event takes place in Oran Mor with more than 200 guests and an auction.

Ms Doig, 38, originally from Dumbreck, said: “Our goal is to remove the financial barriers to water safety education for children from our most vulnerable communities to impact the devastating statistics of child drowning in South Africa.

“Not only can we help here in South Africa, we want to raise awareness about water safety through our social media channels as it is a message that applies to every country including Scotland and the UK.

“We aim to provide hands-on training in the skill of aquatic survival. One of the most famous places around us is the winelands and there are many agricultural dams in communities where children are left unsupervised around water.”

HeraldScotland: Darcey Doig, left, with her brothers Lachlann and HunterDarcey Doig, left, with her brothers Lachlann and Hunter

Ms. Doig says it’s not just about teaching the skills of what to do in emergencies, it’s also about encouraging the instinct to intervene and safe rescues too.

She added: “We want to not only teach children from vulnerable communities how to swim, but also how to stay safe and protect their friends around the water. We also want to make sure our children know what to do in an emergency.

“Often we hear of two children drowning when one has struggled to save the other. So let’s look at how to safely rescue a friend, call for help, and be able to perform CPR. Each child participating in the program will receive a swim bag with a towel, costume and hat so they can enjoy their lessons on a level platform.”

More than 40 young people took part in the first year of the program, and the number would rise to 138 by 2022.

HeraldScotland: Kirsty Doig wants to educate young people about water safetyKirsty Doig wants to educate young people about water safety

The November fundraiser is only the second time Ms Doig has returned to Scotland since the loss of her daughter.

“We really want to raise awareness through the event and make people aware of the risks in the water, even if your child is a confident swimmer,” she added. “I think people feel safer when their kids can swim, but that also comes with additional risks. With that increased confidence, they’re likely to do more, so oversight and education are still important. Hopefully the funds we raise in November will help us do that next year.”

HeraldScotland: Kirsty Doig teaching a young schoolboy water safetyKirsty Doig teaches a young student water safety

Ms. Doig had to strike the right balance between fear and allowing her sons Hunter, 11, and Lachlann, 4, to enjoy the water safely.

“When the accident first happened I wanted to drain all the water from our pool and didn’t want to see it, but our daughter loved to swim. It was everything to them and I couldn’t let the boys grow up with a fear factor. I didn’t want them to be scared. It was important to us to make sure they were safe, confident swimmers.”

To learn more about the Oran Mor event or to make a donation to help fund water safety, go to

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