In June 2014 I became RLSS UK/IQL UK’s Customer Engagement Manager for the Republic of Ireland in addition to my region of the UK. Since that time I have spent 16 days in Ireland visiting 28 Approved Training Centre/Providers and have delivered three Pool Lifeguard Trainer Assessor Standardisation Workshops engaging with 42 of our Pool Lifeguard Trainer Assessors in Ireland. All in all a very busy few months, including six flights and more than 55 hours on the road travelling between centres across Dublin, Cork and the West Coast.

In July this year, I ran the first Pool TA Standardisation Workshop in Ireland at Cavan Leisure Centre with help from my fellow Customer Engagement Manager, Danielle Peel. We were both immediately impressed with how passionate the TAs in attendance were about the National Pool Lifeguard Qualification (NPLQ). One TA had travelled all the way from County Cork to join us in Cavan as she was unable to make the session more local to her later on in the year, that’s a four-hour drive!

August saw Danielle and I standardising TAs at Coral Leisure Centre in Arklow. By this time, word had got around to many TAs about the value of the workshops and the session was almost at capacity with over 25 TAs in attendance. September took me to Westport on the West Coast for the third workshop, seeing another group of enthusiastic Pool TAs wanting to increase their knowledge and standardise their approach to training and assessing the NPLQ. Since running these three workshops, the positive feedback that we have received has been overwhelming. It is absolutely fantastic to have face-to-face contact with the people that are training and assessing the NPLQ on a daily basis, hearing their thoughts and ideas, debating training/assessing techniques and answering so many different types of questions, all in aid of continual improvement.

The biggest WOW factor at the workshops for me is when the new Operational Manuals are introduced. I can honestly say that I have never seen so much excitement over paperwork – usually a TA’s least favourite subject – but now seems to be one of the most popular, with all of the new tools available to TAs to make course administration a lot easier. It has to be my favourite part of the workshops, seeing everyone’s faces light up!

It is also great to facilitate the interaction between TAs during the wet and dry practical sessions, which always creates a few laughs. We have designed the sessions to be good fun whilst reinforcing the importance of standardising the way all TAs across the world train and assess the NPLQ. I will be running one more standardisation workshop in Ireland during November at Coral Leisure Centre in Cobh, County Cork, with the assistance of Customer Engagement Manager, Simon Crute. We are both really looking forward to the event. There is still a few spaces available, book now to avoid missing out. Full details can be found on the website www.rlss.org.uk. All of the workshops, both in Ireland and in the UK, are free for Pool Lifeguard TAs to attend. I’d like to take the opportunity to once again thank all of the managers and centre coordinators that have offered their facilities free of charge to host the workshops. We wouldn’t have been able to achieve what we have done without your support. I would also like to thank David Browne, one of our NTA’s in Ireland for coming along to support the workshops and to help raise the profile of the events through branch mailouts, your continued support is greatly appreciated!

If you are not able to attend one of the workshops this year, don’t worry, we will be rolling out a new programme with fresh new content for 2015 at various locations across the UK and ROI. Full details of dates, times and venues will be posted on the RLSS UK website once the schedule has been confirmed.

To round off 2014, I will be spending two more weeks in Ireland before the end of the year. I will be in Dublin and the surrounding areas in October for a week followed by a week in Cork and the surrounding areas in November, carrying out External Quality Assurance Visits with ATC/Ps. I’m really excited about continuing to work in Ireland and back in the UK during 2015.