By Robert Gofton, CEO

I want to start with a quick mention of our campaign #DontDrinkandDrown. This is a campaign that has a real connection with some of my previous roles working in Higher Education. Launched specifically to coincide with the start of the University academic year, it warns on the dangers of drinking and being ‘under the influence’, then walking near or entering water.

I have been involved in many Fresher’s and Welcome Weeks and I have seen how exciting and fun it can be for many students - moving away for the first time, getting ready to study their dream course, making new friends and exploring new towns and cities. Universities and Students’ Unions work extremely hard to find a diverse and exciting range of events to welcome these ‘freshers’. Linked to this time of the year, there is often the opportunity to attend several events that are alcohol-related. For the vast majority, these can be equally enjoyable and a time when some students are still finding their limits, others are pushing to excess. 

Our advice at this time of year is simple…stay safe!

  • Don’t enter the water if you have been drinking or taking drugs
  • Alcohol seriously affects your ability to get yourself out of trouble
  • Look out for your friends, make sure they get home safely
  • Don’t walk home near water, you might fall in

Remember the effects of alcohol on the body

  • Alcohol lowers inhibitions, leading to impaired judgment which means you are more likely to take risks and get into trouble
  • Alcohol limits muscle ability making simple movements much harder
  • Alcohol slows down your reactions making it more difficult to get yourself out of trouble
  • Alcohol numbs the senses particularly sight, sound and touch, making swimming very difficult

The first few weeks are amazing, all new students should enjoy it thoroughly, make friends for life and look out for each other.

As we head into autumn and in the midst of ‘awards’ season, I’m very much looking forward to meeting as many of you as possible at our very own ‘RLSS UK Honours Ceremony’ being held at Worcester Cathedral, in just over three weeks.

As we are soon to come together to help to celebrate the amazing achievements of our committed volunteers, it feels timely that I reflect on an inspirational story I heard this week, from our very own Deputy President, Mark Smith. His story reflects on the robustness and quality of training of the training we provide and illustrates that once equipped with vital lifesaving skills, they can be used at any time, anywhere, even when you don’t expect it!

Here are Mark’s own words reflecting on his actions:

As I sat by the pool on holiday, my instincts picked up on something that wasn’t right, hidden behind a large plant pot from where I was sat, an elderly person was drowning. Be it the meek cry of “help me” amongst general noise or the panicked grasp splash in the water that just didn’t sound right, I instinctively knew something was wrong. In seconds I was in the pool under the water dragging her up from the bottom. Despite being in shallow water, the lady who normally walked on land with sticks, had lost her footing and gone down. Her relatives were only metres away in the pool but I still got there quicker than anyone. “That was brilliant” the grown-up daughter said, stunned at the speed of the response. But it wasn’t a few seconds of brilliance at all, it was many years of RLSS UK training kicking in and just making it happen. Assessing the slipperiness of the floor, depth of water, who else was there, what to do, and so forth - all in a split second.”

Mark’s account highlights how, each and every day, people equipped with skills acquired through our awards and qualifications perform a really important role in helping to keep people safe and saving lives – helping to keep areas with water safe both formally within their vocational roles but also, when they are about and about living their life. 

It is our aspiration to ensure that everyone in the UK is equipped with the knowledge, skills and confidence, to know what to do should they find themselves in an emergency situation or witness someone else in trouble. 

We want to celebrate each and every person that performs a rescue so please do get in touch and let us know your own stories: