National Pool Lifeguard Qualification (NPLQ), it is just the beginning!

With the recent news that MP Charlotte Leslie once worked as a Lifeguard, we have been taking a look at other famous people who boast a lifeguard job on their CV. We always maintain that being a lifeguard is a stepping stone to greater things and these case studies certainly suggest that this is true!

Find out more below about our more recent additions which include Damian Warburton (Pupil Barrister), Peter Purves (Dr Who actor and Blue Peter Presenter) and Charlotte Leslie (former Conservative MP).

Many people we know started their careers as Lifeguards and their journeys have taken them to fantastic futures, don’t take our word for it, see for yourself:

Damian Warburton - Pupil Barrister

My experience as a Pool Lifeguard and Swimming Teacher highlighted to me just how vital it was to make myself clearly understood to others, to be able to explain unfamiliar rules. As a pool plant operator, I realised the importance of adhering to laws and policies designed to ensure safety. Albeit that at the Bar the only risk of drowning is a metaphorical one – under the weight of law and evidence, these remain essential skills in legal practice.

Peter Purves, Television Presenter, and Actor 

Peter Purves is a successful English television presenter and actor. He played Steven Taylor in Doctor Who and later became a presenter on the BBC children's programme, Blue Peter, a position he held for eleven years. 

He was a lifeguard early in his career and said about his time. “My School in Blackpool was very keen on swimming, and we had buses to take us to the Derby Baths on the North Shore and, being an Olympic size pool, it was a wonderful place to learn and practice our skills. Our swimming coach was very supportive and, at the age of 15, I was asked to go for my Bronze badge, Silver, and then finally to try for the Advanced badges. All of which I sailed through.

One of the first times I had to use my lifesaving skills was when I joined the Blue Peter TV programme. The film that I made upon joining, was shot at Crystal Palace baths in South London, where I taught John Noakes and Valerie Singleton the rudiments of Lifesaving. Luckily, they were both compliant in being rescued - I do not think punching John (or Valerie for that matter) would have gone down very well!!

Being a strong swimmer is an essential element, and also keeping calm in a situation where the person in trouble may be thrashing about wildly and grabbing at anything to keep afloat. In those days, we were not as skilled in using floats and other equipment. The skills and bravery of Lifeguards are to be admired - and what better way for a fit young person to give something to society? It is invaluable work and I wholeheartedly support the Royal Life Saving Society UK in all their efforts countrywide.”

Charlotte Leslie, Director of the Conservative Middle East Council and former Conservative MP for Bristol North West

Photo credit: Lupe de la Vallina 

“It is no disrespect to any of my university tutors or teachers to say I learned more from my experience lifeguarding than any other time in my life. It was the ultimate preparation for becoming an MP and taught me the most valuable lessons politicians can remember: 1. It’s not about you, its about serving the public. 2. Reality matters 3. Actions speak louder than words. You cannot press-release an injured surfer off a rock in a whomping six foot surf. And announcing it in Parliament is not the same as actually doing it on the ground. My campaign slogan as an MP was ‘getting stuff done’, and thanks to my amazing lifeguard friends, and boss, Mini Fry, getting good stuff done underlies any job I will ever do.“

Trish Greenhalgh, a British professor of primary health care and GP

Trish Greenhalgh is an internationally recognised academic in primary health care and Fellow of Green Templeton College at the University of Oxford and GP.  As a teenager, she started her career as a lifeguard; she did this as she was keen on first aid and swimming. At 13, Trish passed her Bronze Medallion and worked towards more advanced awards, doing lifesaving competitions and demonstrations with friends from Folkestone Swimming Club. Her first job was as a lifeguard at the local pool and, then she was inspired to study medicine, which she did at Cambridge and Oxford universities (3 years each). She then went on to become a GP and also to do teaching and research in medicine. Trish now works as a Professor at Oxford University on a range of projects including public health and promoting patient safety. The picture shows her giving a lecture on public health.

Tom Bartley, Operations & Training Manager, Motorpoint Arena & National Ice Centre

Tom Bartley is extremely proud to say that he started his career as a lifeguard at the age of 16. At school, he was told by one of his teachers that he would always fail in life and, this affected his confidence, so he left school without his GCSE results. Tom then went on to complete a lifeguard course, fell in love with the leisure centre environment and his career flourished. He is now the Operations & Training Manager at a 10,000-capacity Motorpoint Arena & National Ice Centre and loving his job. To read his story and his advice for anyone that did not gain the grades they were hoping for, click here

Laura Winter, Sports Broadcaster, Commentator and Journalist

Laura Winter is now a well-known sports broadcaster, commentator and journalist but, as a natural progression from a competitive swimmer from age 7, Laura started her career as a Lifeguard at Sandford Parks Lido in Cheltenham. She talks fondly of her time as a lifeguard and, we wanted to find out more about what she enjoyed about her time as a lifeguard and the advice she would offer for anyone considering lifeguarding as a career. To see her interview click here.

Mital Karia, General Manager, Archway Leisure Centre, GLL

"I'm proud to say that I started my career in the leisure sector at the age of 16 as a Lifeguard. Throughout the years, I progressed using the skills I learnt, and this opened many opportunities and enabled me to further my career. Now, I am a General Manager for a leisure facility as well as an RLSS UK Trainer Assessor.

“The skills and knowledge you gain as a Lifeguard are adaptable and valuable to any role or sector. Not only does the role of a Lifeguard allow you to develop key skills required for any workplace, but also makes you proficient in any social or stressed environment with excellent communication skills; key fundamentals required in our daily lives. Start your career as a Lifeguard and find out your true potential." 

Grace Webb, TV Presenter 

Grace Webb is the Presenter of the CBeebies series, ‘Grace’s Amazing Machines,’ and was an educator on the highly anticipated ‘BBC Bitesize Daily,’ but, she started her career as a lifeguard at her local swimming pool. Talking about her time as a lifeguard, she said that she enjoyed the training aspect of the job and supporting the community. To read Grace’s full story click here.

Andy Marsh, Chief Constable

“You wouldn’t believe the skills I learnt as a lifeguard, the doors it opened and the fun I had. During my 4 years as a beach lifeguard, I developed valuable life skills including; excellent communication skills, dealing with conflict, critical decision making and leadership skills. I also enhanced my personal developments skills including; focus, discipline, and personal achievement. Lifeguarding is a very sensible decision for anyone starting their career.”

Antony Coia, Prison Officer, HMP Barlinnie, Scottish Prison Service

“My experience as a Lifeguard supported me in being a Prison Officer as I learnt the skills of working in a team, assisting the public and being observant. I also gained experience in dealing with members of the public, resolving issues, and helping them where required, or even just being there to talk to someone.” Antony started as a Lifeguard, read how his career developed and how lifeguarding helped him by clicking here.  

Luisa Petta, Nurse at Southampton Children’s hospital 

I started as a lifeguard and now work as an intensive care nurse at Southampton Children’s Hospital. The lifesaving skills I learnt at South Worcester Lifesaving and Lifeguarding Club, have been a great basis for those that I needed to become a paediatric nurse in a busy ICU. Some of the key skills I learnt as a lifeguard are, communication, compassion, and the ability to listen and I use these often when supporting the children and their families on a busy ward. For Luisa's story during COVID-19 click here

Tristan Smith, Mounted Police Officer

“I was looking for a job that could take me forward in my application for the police. I chose lifeguarding and it was a fantastic decision – I was challenged, I had responsibility and I learnt invaluable lifesaving and people skills.”

Andy Carter-Weston, Paramedic (HART Team)

“The core First Aid skills I learnt as a lifeguard really helped me during the ambulance service assessment process. The life skills I learnt from dealing with emergency situations in the pool; being able to engage and talk with members of the public and make people feel at ease, have been vital in the job that I do today.”

Jo Talbot, Commercial Director, RLSS UK 

“I’m proud to say that I started my career in the sector by doing an apprenticeship in leisure and training as a lifeguard. Twenty years on, and now as Director of IQL UK and RLSS UK Qualifications at the Royal Life Saving Society UK (RLSS UK), I’ve never been more passionate about lifeguarding and drowning prevention. I can honestly say that the skills and knowledge I gained as a lifeguard, have been invaluable throughout my entire career and have undoubtedly led me to my current role as Director - positioning RLSS UK as market leaders for water safety qualifications and the go-to organisation for drowning prevention education.”

Michael Loveless, Operational Support Officer

“I learnt many skills as a lifeguard that have helped me with my career in the police service, especially dealing with the public, first aid and resuscitation.  These skills have been really valuable especially during training, in my dealings with the public and also at incidents.”

Caroline Peters, Chief Superintendent

"When we are looking for potential recruits for the police force, we are looking for many skills you can gain as a lifeguard. These include excellent communication skills, both verbally and aurally; and the confidence to adapt those skills to particular situations, from people simply needing directions to people who are very distressed. Lifeguards also have good fitness, discipline, and clarity of thought for quick decision making in a variety of scenarios. However, the biggest skills are team working and team building so that everybody knows their role and how to meet the objective." 

Simon Blackadder, Leisure Centre Manager

"I started my career as a lifeguard, I was attracted to it as the weekend and evening shifts and flexibility of the role suited my needs at the time.  Since then I have been in a number of positions within the company and I am now General Manager of an £11.5million facility that attracts over 400,000 customer visitors every year.  Lifeguarding is a great career path as it is rewarding and allows you to develop skills including communication and people skills."

Tara Dillion, CEO of CIMSPA

I started as a lifeguard and have worked in the sport and physical activity sector for 30 years and know that there has never been a more exciting time to enter it.  Over the past few years, the sector has expanded from being solely focused on teaching a sport or lifeguard at a swimming pool to treating patients referred by a doctor, improving an athlete’s performance or improving the life skills and physical literacy of children and the opportunities for career development are now endless. 

Dan Jacklin, Consulting Director, SLS Management Consultancy

“I started as a Lifeguard aged 16, then trained further to become an RLSS TA and then NTA. Drawing on over 10 years' experience in leisure, involving several senior management safety, training, and entrepreneurial roles, I now support the RLSS UK with commercial leisure safety consultancy. I also support the Court and parties considering, or in the process of, litigation with regards to commercial wet leisure issues (primarily in personal injury/crime/employment cases) in the UK, Ireland and increasingly in travel law cases across the globe. I have always enjoyed working and training with RLSS UK. The most valuable skill I have gained is being able to do CPR and being able to help others to prevent drowning is incredibly rewarding.” Follow Dan’s career pathway below.

RLSS UK is the leading provider of Lifeguard training, with more than 40,000 Pool Lifeguards qualifying with an RLSS UK National Pool Lifeguard Qualification (NPLQ) every year! For more information on the NPLQ, click here

An apprenticeship in leisure could take you on a journey to an amazing career. You could earn whilst you learn, gain valuable qualifications to equip you to progress and build a bright future.

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