RLSS UK Business Development Manager, Tom Watts.

When I think about where I’ve got to in my career to date, I still find it quite intriguing how I ended up here; it’s a great situation to be in, but it was also an accident, an accident I happen to love!

First and foremost, I knew I wanted to be a lifeguard but having passed my National Pool Lifeguard Qualification (NPLQ) in 2006, I struggled to find my first job so I decided to continue with college. Around a year later, I decided that I wanted to try again to become an employed lifeguard and after a couple of applications to various leisure facilities, I finally secured my first part-time job!

This was the start of my career, but I didn’t know it yet.

I started in 2007 with a national health and fitness organisation called Cannons Health & Fitness, following a takeover, we rebranded as Nuffield Health and then my journey really began.

Despite being a full-time student, I found I love my job as a lifeguard more and was quickly rewarded with a promotion to Lifeguard Supervisor. Still only in my teens, becoming Team Leader was daunting, this was something I had never expected, dreamed of or wanted at that stage but I fell right into it, like a duck to water. 

I loved being my team’s leader; working with them more closely and getting to know them better then, having graduated from college, I joined the team full-time and soon found myself promoted again to Duty Manager.

Over the next few years, whilst still working as a lifeguard, I became qualified and experienced in the many other various roles that the leisure sector has to offer – Gym Instructor, Personal Trainer, Swimming Teacher, Sales Assistant, Receptionist and eventually Swim School Co-ordinator. It was exciting, there was so much to learn and do (there still is)!

Lifeguarding still felt like my first love though, so a Trainer Assessor (TA) course felt like an organic next step, so that I could deliver our staff training and run lifeguard courses. Then suddenly, for the first time ever, it felt like I hit a bump in the road as first one, then two TA courses were pulled. It felt like I was never going to be a TA!

Forward-wind another few years and I found myself working as a Personal Trainer; despite training lifeguards not being in my remit, I convinced my employer to put me on the course.

Suffice to say - it was the best thing that could have happened.

I successfully completed the course in September 2015 and by 2016, I was a fully qualified (non-probationary) TA. The course was everything I had hoped, wanted and needed it to be so it will come as no surprise, that I looked at my course tutor (a National Trainer Assessor) and thought…”I want to be you.”

To my mind, there is no higher achievement than being a National Trainer Assessor for the leisure sector and I’ve spent the last two years working at that level. Call me greedy but I always wanted more, so there was only one thing for it, I had to work for the awarding organisation that had had my back for the last 14 years - RLSS UK.

I only joined in September but I already feel like I’m ‘home’; the chance to shape, create and influence RLSS UK courses, knowledge and skills, all for the benefit of the candidates and their wider communities, is a real privilege.

I still teach NPLQ, first aid and other skill-related water rescue courses, but the courses that feel the most special to me are the TA and education ones. This is where I feel I can use my skills, knowledge and experience to make a positive difference on others.

I STARTED AS A LIFEGUARD: this was my dream and whilst it’s not right for everyone, for those whose passion for the role and desire to help others matches my own (maybe even exceeds it), the role opens doors to a wealth of career possibilities and the sort of personal development that never leaves you.