Eleven-year-old Rookie Lifeguard Bertie White was on holiday with his family in Lanzarote in August 2023, when the skills he had learnt were called upon. 

Bertie was swimming in the hotel pool which was 1.7m deep, when he noticed a boy of a similar age seemed to be in difficulty and kept going under the water. He thought the boy had shouted for help, so Bertie swam to him to ask if he needed help to which he replied yes. 

Using the skills he had learned in his Rookie Lifeguard training, Bertie put his arm under the young boy’s armpit and pulled him to the safety of the side of the pool. Bertie checked that he was OK, and the young boy thanked him for helping him. 

Bertie had learnt to swim at the age of four and began his Rookie Lifeguard training aged ten, reaching his silver stage one award so far. It was clear that the training he had received had been well remembered to help someone who was in difficulty.

Bertie’s mum Helen Gray said “It had all happened so quickly, Bertie reacted on his gut instinct and his training kicked in. When Bertie told us about the rescue, he was very nonchalant, like it was all in a day’s work for him! We are very proud that he had the confidence and the presence of mind to help the child in distress and even more that his training kicked straight in to get the child to safety.”

Bertie loves being a Rookie Lifeguard and when asked what he likes he said ‘everything!’. 

Although not one for the limelight, Bertie was recognised by RLSS UK for his rescue by being awarded with a Young Persons Certificate of Commendation which was awarded to him by his instructor Sue Dyer. 

Bertie’s mum added, “Recognition should also go to Sue for being such a great teacher and mentor to Bertie. She is a lovely person who goes above and beyond for her students.”

Sue has taught Bertie for six years as he was part of her swimming class group before he progressed to become a Rookie Lifeguard in Sue’s class.

Sue said, “For Bertie to recognise a person in need of help, to assess the situation and then react, is really quite something. I don’t think he realises how well he’s done.”

RLSS UK’s Rookie Lifeguard programme gives children the skills they need to be confident in the pool or the sea. With colourful materials and fun, varied activities, the Rookie Lifeguard scheme teaches children how to enjoy water safely, whether in shallow or deeper water.

Find out more about Rookie Lifeguard