I started my leisure journey when I was 16-years-old, securing a full-time job at my local council pool. My employer signed me up to the National Pool Lifeguard QualificationI was really pleased when I passed the course and I haven’t really looked back. 

continued to work as a leisure attendant full-time for two years and can honestly say, I absolutely loved it! So much so that, roll on 16 years and Im still very good friends with the team I worked with back then. 

I was eventually promoted to a joint Supervisor and Relief Duty Manager role: this meant I was responsible for the team of lifeguards on duty and would run the shift, it also included organising and setting up inflatable sessions, change-over of sports hall activities, and as a key holder, I was responsible for opening and closing the building. 

Not wanting to re-locate but wanting to move my career into the private sector, my only option was to join the membership and sales team. I knew that this role wasn’t what I wanted to do as a career but in taking a sideways step, I was able to develop my experience in the leisure sector.  

A couple of years later I was appointed Club Support Manager - a big step up for meI was responsible for managing the whole lifeguard team, the maintenance of four swimming pools, managing the club’s cleanliness and housekeeping through an external contractor, as well as supporting all areas of the club operationally. 

was very lucky because I quickly moved on to become Operations Manager; as well as the daily operations of the club, making sure it looked and functioned optimally, my remit had a much wider reach, being responsible for the clubs Health and Safetadherence on a day-to-day basis, as well as the external audits which happened twice a year.

I stayed as Operations Manager for two yearbefore a new opportunity to expand my skills and experience came knocking. I moved to join the team at Head Office, where I started as the Mandatory Trainer, soon progressing again to become the Mandatory Training Manager. This time I was field-based, covering all clubs across the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland, delivering a variety of courses, and conducting health and safety club audits. I was also responsible for planning, managing and delivering Pool Safety, First Aid, and AED courses across the business, which consisted of over 100 clubs. 

To say it was hectic and full-on would be an understatement but again, I found myself relishing going into work each day. My team and I delivered a wide range of courses including First Aid at Work, Emergency First Aid, RLSS UK Emergency Response, Anaphylaxis Awareness, Automated External Defibrillation (AED), Paediatric First Aid, and of course, the NPLQ. I loved being so hands-on with the training as well as the challenge of managing the other trainers within the business, ensuring they had the most current guidance, their internal verifications remained valid and being available to provide any additional support they needed. 

Come February 2021 I’ve been with RLSS UK for over two years, joining the IQL UK team initially, as the Qualifications Development-Vocational lead. And in January 2020, I was appointed as RLSS UK’s Senior Head of Qualifications and Training, where my responsibilities include: 

  • Planning, organisation and management the development, design and review of new and existing vocational qualifications and awards  
  • Development of additional educational resource materials that support the delivery of vocational qualifications and awards 
  • Liaison with external stakeholders to test new vocational qualifications and awards from conception through to completion 

Being based at RLSS UK’s Head Office means I am able to take advantage of being at the centre of all the great work RLSS UK does; whether it’s hearing our customers feedback from the Customer Service team, discussing concerns and queries generated from our auditing and compliance representatives across the country, or launching new courses and qualifications. 

Putting into writing my story so far, it’s hard to believe I’ve been involved in so many levels of the leisure industry and whilst, like most people, not every job has been a laugh-a-minute, I am in no doubt that the variety of my experience helps me in my role today – responding to what the leisure sector wants and needs to create fun and safe spaces for water-based activities, innovating and creating awards, qualifications and training all with one aim in mind, helping everyone to enjoy water safely and seeing accidental drowning consigned to the past.