A mum who set up a not-for-profit company educating children on water safety after her son died in a tragic drowning broke down in tears after learning she would be honoured at this year’s National Lottery Awards.

Debbie Turnbull, formerely of Rhos on Sea who now lives in Flintshire, received the amazing surprise that she was to be presented with a Special Achievement Award in front of a star-studded audience which included Martin Clunes, 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, make the shock announcement at The National Lottery Awards due to be broadcast on BBC One tonight (Wednesday).

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

Mrs Turnbull 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 inspirational work using nearly £15,000 of National Lottery funding to teach water safety and CPR to children and young adults across Wales and the UK with her campaign group of River And Sea Sense.

It is hard to estimate how many lives may be saved by her work - her emotional story means pupils rarely forget the message she spreads. 

A moving film of Debbie giving one of her water safety talks to young people with EastEnders star Samantha Janus will be shown on the programme. Debbie thought she was being filmed for another programme, and had not realised that she had won this special award.

Mrs Turnbull 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.”

Ore Oduba, said: “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.

“Their stories will make you smile, they will make you cry, but above all, if you play the National Lottery, they will make you swell with pride to have supported these inspirational individuals and organisations.

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

The National Lottery Awards celebrate the difference that Lottery-funded organisations, make to communities.