The leisure and aquatics industry turned out in force to celebrate the stars of water safety at the Royal Life Saving Society UK (RLSS UK) and IQL UK National Awards 2015.

With seven new categories, the ceremony was the largest to date recognising the vital contribution made by individuals and organisations in pool safety and drowning prevention in the UK.

Now in their third year, the awards are the most important in the water safety industry and give those responsible for water safety – Lifeguards, Trainer Assessors, National Trainer Assessors and Approved Training Centres – the opportunity to recognise and celebrate those who continually raise standards and make such a valuable contribution to pool safety and drowning prevention.

The awards were hosted by the renowned sports scientist, Olympian and physical activity expert, Professor Greg Whyte OBE, at Chesford Grange in Kenilworth.

Martin Symcox, Director of IQL UK, said: “We introduced seven new awards this year to recognise best practice across the wider industry and have been overwhelmed by the quality of entrants. These awards showcase some of the fantastic work being done to save lives in and around pools and the standards get higher each year.

“I’d like to congratulate the winners of this year’s awards who have demonstrated outstanding commitment to water safety and to protecting those who use our pools.”

This year’s winners are:

Category: Single Site Approved Training Centre of the Year

Winner: Totton Health and Leisure

Judges verdict: The site showed a significant commitment to drowning prevention through the delivery of a wide range of RLSS UK training courses from Rookie Lifeguard training to the National Pool Lifeguard Qualification (NPLQ) and AED training. Their training has been put to the test with the successful use of AEDs on two casualties in 2014, clearly highlighting the quality in which they deliver their training and how seriously they take drowning prevention. The site hosts a RLSS UK Lifesaving club, and in conjunction with their local RLSS UK branch, delivers community RLSS UK programmes to the local population indicating a real passion for community involvement and sharing the drowning prevention message.

Category: Multi-Site Approved Training Centre of the Year (2-15 sites)

Winner: Leeds City Council

Judges verdict: Leeds City Council again (winner in 2013) stood out as leaders in this category for their dedication to lifeguard performance and sharing the wider drowning prevention message. They delivered the RLSS UK message of drowning prevention to over 8,000 children in one week during 2014 by participating in the RLSS UK Drowning Prevention Week campaign. Through competitions and regular ongoing training, Leeds City Council placed a real focus on their lifeguards being the best that they can be. The involvement of the wider community should be applauded and activities such as Lifesaving Camps and Rookie Lifeguard Challenges highlight why they are worthy winners.

Category: Multi-Site Approved Training Centre of the Year (15+ sites)

Winner: Places for People Leisure Management Ltd

Judges verdict: As one of the largest operators of leisure facilities in the UK, Places for People Leisure Management have demonstrated a clear commitment to water safety and drowning prevention through the delivery of over 1,500 NPLQ’s in 2014. There is a high level of commitment to drowning prevention within the group’s support structure including a Group Lifeguarding Manager and Regional Support Staff. The operator supports the delivery of community RLSS UK lifesaving programmes by collaboratively working with over 20 lifesaving clubs across their leisure facilities. The judges were delighted to see that RLSS UK courses were embedded within the operator’s swimming lesson programme with over 100 Rookie Lifeguard courses delivered each week.

Category: Trainer Assessor of the Year

Winner: Steve Carter, Wellington Civic & Leisure Centre

Judges verdict: Steve is an exceptional Training Assessor. The judges were impressed with his dedication to delivering lifesaving training, both at Wellington Civic & Leisure Centre

and across the region. Steve’s high standards of training helped equip two members of staff with the skills needed to save the life of a customer in 2014. Through his efforts, more than 1,700 ten and eleven year olds across the region received lifesaving skills as part of the Crucial Crew multi-agency event. Steve also coordinated and delivered careers advice about lifeguarding to young people at the Partnership for Careers Skills Festival.

Category: National Trainer Assessor of the Year

Winner: Mark Hutchison, Glasgow Life

Judges verdict: Mark is an inspirational and dedicated National Training Assessor who drives continuous improvement and high achievement. He is a keen ambassador for RLSS UK, ensuring 100 per cent compliance at Glasgow Life’s pools, but also growing and developing the organisation’s Trainer Assessors and bringing valuable learning into the communities. In 2014, Glasgow Life became the first organisation to fully utilise existing staff to ensure the safety of athletes participating in pool events in the 2014 Commonwealth Games. All lifeguard employees working at the games were trained using the RLSS UK OT&CA programme. Mark has delivered and hosted a number of events to ensure staff development and delivered a large number of community NPLQ programmes, which has resulted in 205 new lifeguards.

Category: Lifeguard of the Year

Winner: Douglas Herd, Everyone Active, Bedworth Leisure Centre

Judges verdict: Douglas is a skilled and dedicated lifeguard who inspires confidence in those around him. Judges were particularly impressed with the initiative and professionalism shown by Douglas and his willingness to go above and beyond the call of duty when dealing with a car accident outside the leisure centre. A driver had suffered a heart attack while behind the wheel and despite being off-duty, Douglas’ sprang into action using his RLSS UK training to help save the life of the driver. Working alongside his Duty Manager, Douglas deployed an AED and administered CPR until the arrival of an ambulance. He then remained at the centre providing vital support to the Duty Manager until the centre closed.

Category: Lifeguard Team of the Year

Winners: Kirkby Leisure Centre

Judges verdict: The lifeguard team demonstrated quick thinking and outstanding teamwork in an emergency at the leisure centre in October 2014. A regular swimmer suffered a cardiac arrest while in the pool one morning. The lifeguards extracted the swimmer, who had stopped breathing, and immediately administered CPR at poolside. They continued to perform CPR and also used an AED until the arrival of paramedics. Hospital staff confirmed that it was the early interventions of the pool lifeguards which saved the life of the victim.

Category: Outstanding Contribution to Lifesaving in the Community

Winner: Val Hardy, Impulse Leisure

Judges verdict: Judges selected Val Hardy for this award in recognition of her 40 years of service to the water safety cause in Essex. Known as Mrs Lifesaving, Val has trained hundreds of Trainer Assessors and Instructors and is still in demand as a Trainer, Assessor, Coach and Mentor. She has acted as water safety advisor to Essex Education, trained the majority of local teachers at schools with pools and has also rewritten the Essex Water Safety Policy document for schools. After two decades as Branch Secretary and Branch Life Saving Coordinator for RLSS UK Essex, Val took on the role of Club Development Officer, in which capacity she has helped turn around a failing club. Val has recently been appointed Chair of the Essex Branch Committee.

Category: Special Recognition

Winner: Cheryl Clark, Nottingham City Council

Judges verdict: An NLPQ Training Assessor for more than 10 years, Cheryl is responsible for the training and development of 97 lifeguards in her role Asset Manager for Nottingham City Council’s Sports and Leisure section. Cheryl also organises regular NLPQ courses to ensure a regular supply of new lifeguards for the council’s seven swimming pools. In 2014, Cheryl’s own lifesaving skills were put into action when a member staff showed signs of suffering a heart attack after taking part in NLPQ training. The person had stopped breathing, and Cheryl delivered CPR and also used a defibrillator on the casualty resulting in them becoming responsive. They were taken to hospital and have made a full recovery.