Partial amputee qualifies as lifeguard to progress career

18 October 2017

A duty manager has overcome one of the biggest challenges of his career after qualifying as a pool lifeguard with the Royal Life Saving Society UK. That’s quite an achievement for a partial amputee.

Michael Williams, who works at the GLL operated Park Sport Centre in Wheatley, Oxford, had his leg partially amputated when he was 20 months old following a birth defect in his left foot. The 26 year old has worked for GLL for three years and is keen to progress his career, but has been held back by his poor swimming skills.

I needed to qualify as a lifeguard in order to progress my career. As a duty manager at a dry side leisure centre, I’ve found it so difficult to move up the ladder without holding an NPLQ (National Pool Lifeguard Qualification) – it’s been a massive barrier for me for nearly three years,” he says.

For the last two years, Williams has battled his physical impairment to being a pool lifeguard, which involved learning to swim all over again.

 “The whole process was very challenging because I could not swim very well at all. Learning to swim with just the one leg is tough; but learning to become a strong swimmer was even more difficult. I had plenty of injuries and became quite stressed at times, but with a condition like mine all you can do is forget about it and not let it affect you,” he says.

 Williams was devastated when he failed the test the first time around, but with support from his colleagues, he was determined to pass at the re-assessment, and he did. The inspiring achievement means that Williams can now take the next step up the career ladder.

My aim now is to find a management position that enables me to work both dry and wet side of the leisure provision. Having this qualification puts me one step closer to achieving that.

Alex Blackwell, IQL UK’s Head of Vocational Qualifications, said: “We’d like to congratulate Michael on what is a hugely inspiring achievement. We actively encourage all individuals to take part in our courses where it is safe to do so. We believe it’s important, to take a proactive approach to creating opportunities to apply for reasonable adjustments, so there are no unnecessary barriers that might prevent someone taking part in a course.


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IQL UK is the trading subsidiary of The Royal Life Saving Society UK (RLSS UK), the drowning prevention charity.

RLSS UK is the UK’s leading provider of training and education in lifesaving, lifeguarding, water safety and life support skills in the UK.  It is also the governing body for Lifesaving Sport.

Through IQL UK, there are more than 90,000 RLSS UK Pool Lifeguards in the UK trained in the National Pool Lifeguard Qualification (NPLQ). Around 95 per cent of all pool lifeguards are trained by the RLSS UK. IQL UK also offers the National Pool Management Qualification and First Aid at Work qualifications as part of its portfolio.

Around 400 people drown in the UK every year and the charity aims to prevent drowning and promote water safety education through campaigns and its lifesaving programmes.

RLSS UK awards and programmes teach a range of lifesaving skills ranging from life support (CPR) to water survival and rescue skills. Programmes include Rookie Lifeguard (for eight to12-year–olds), Survive and Save (for 12 years+) and Save a Baby’s Life (a free course aimed at parents and carers of young children).

The RLSS UK (then the Life Saving Society) was formed in 1891. In 1904, as there was great support for the organisation from the Royal Family, the society was granted permission to use the Royal title and became the Royal Life Saving Society.

Drowning Prevention Week is the national campaign run by the Royal Life Saving Society UK to cut down the number of accidental drowning that occur each year and support families affected by drowning.

For more information and interview/spokesperson opportunities contact Porcha Treanor by emailing [email protected] or calling 0300 3230 096.