Big Day In Memory of Zac

We recently came across the charity Forever 11, established in memory of Zac Thompson who died after being swept into the sea in 2022. It was set up by Sam John and his wife, Natalie, the parents of one of Zac’s best friends.

Natalie told us, “We are a new charity and we became officially registered in January 2023. The initial concept was to have one Memorial Day in honour of Zac. He was a member of my [coaching] husband’s rugby team, alongside our eldest son and many other children, whose parents are now involved within the charity. We wanted to honour the cheeky, kind, loyal and fun-loving boy that we had all grown to love and keep his memory alive.”

The original event on 28 August 2022 raised £11,000.

“At first the idea was just to raise money for RNLI and Air Ambulance, two charities that were vital during the rescue of Zac. The amount that we managed to raise surprised us and encouraged us to keep going. We all decided to donate £3,500 to each charity and the rest towards registering Forever 11.”

All of this work brought into focus that there was a need for education and training for young people on all aspects of sea safety and they also identified areas where lifesaving equipment was needed.

Parents wanted to create positive memories surrounding such a tragic incident and to raise their concerns that mental health issues are on the rise within all age groups, especially within the young adult category.

Natalie said: “One in six children aged five to 16 were identified as having a probable mental health problem in July 2021, a huge increase from one in nine in 2017. That’s five children in every classroom. To have something to focus on when [the accident] happened helped our whole community to keep going.”

Natalie is determined that we teach our children to be safe around coastal areas and bodies of water; the charity has so far funded one indoor and two outdoor sea safety sessions.

It is also providing funding for all Year 6 pupils at Pembroke Dock Community School to have a sea safety session during school hours. Natalie said: “This year we have funded 132 children to participate in sea safety sessions. We hope with more funding that we will be able to help other schools with the same trip. We are also working to ensure there is lifesaving equipment at all hotspots within Pembrokeshire.

“We are community-funded and hold fundraising days throughout the year, our main one being the family fun day and memorial match. We accept monetary/bank donations and are in the process of setting up a JustGiving account.”

The Memorial Match and Fun Day are on 22 July with live music by Honeyfungus, and Pembrokeshire Fire Spinners will be there, with their crazy circus skills, through the day and their spectacular fire show at 9pm.

There will also be an under-twos section with soft-play equipment, archery and axe throwing, inflatables, and lots of stalls, including some selling local homemade goods.

If you want to help, the charity is asking for donations of cakes, bakes and sweet treats for the event. Make contact on Facebook Forever 11 if you can help. For more information go to Facebook or email The charity is based in Pembroke/Pembroke Dock.

Kitty Parsons

Kitty has forgotten how long she has been here now but she loves Pembrokeshire for its beauty and it's people. She spends her time searching out stories for, swimming in the sea , drawing and painting as Snorkelfish and eating cake. She says " has been an opportunity to celebrate this beautiful county and its people. Keep the stories coming. We love to hear from you."

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