A mother who began campaigning and fundraising after losing her son in tragic circumstances has been honoured.

Debbie Turnbull broke down in tears after learning she would be honoured with a special achievement award at this year’s National Lottery Awards.

The Holywell resident received the surprise in front of a star-studded audience which included Martin Clunes, Martin Kemp, Kimberly Walsh and Tamzin Outhwaite.

Millions of TV viewers will see the celebrities join in a special standing ovation for Debbie, as awards host Ore Oduba and adventurer Bear Grylls – a hero of Debbie’s – made the announcement.

Every parent’s worst nightmare came true for Debbie 11 years ago when her teenage son Chris drowned while swimming with friends.

Debbie has dealt with her loss by helping other people, and she set up River and Sea Sense to try to prevent another family going through the same pain.

She is being recognised for her work using nearly £15,000 of National Lottery funding to teach water safety and CPR to children and young adults across the UK.

Debbie said: “I am shocked and honoured to receive this award.

“By October I’ll have addressed almost 200,000 children, and every one I speak to helps me make some sense of what happened to Chris.

“National Lottery funding has helped me reach out to these young people to give them a simple message: enjoy playing in water, but be aware of its dangers.

“Winning this special National Lottery Award is recognition of the importance of this message, and I’d like to thank National Lottery players for supporting this and so many other life-changing,
amazing charities.”

Awards host Ore Oduba added: “The National Lottery Awards celebrate the UK’s favourite Lottery-funded projects as voted for by the public. They give deserved recognition to ordinary people who do extraordinary things with National Lottery funding.

“Debbie Turnbull is a remarkable woman of great courage and conviction who has helped so many people.”

The National Lottery Awards will be broadcast on BBC1 on Wednesday at 10.45pm or 11.40pm in Wales.