James Cossons, former RLSS UK Youth Advisor, Crawley Town Life Saving Club member and Client Manager for Aon's Reinsurance Solutions talks us through his lifesaving journey.

Leading the charge to engage more young people in the organisation and spread the word to their peers, James Cossons tells Lifesavers about his how he came to be so involved with RLSS UK…

“It feels like a long time ago that my sister’s friend asked to me to ‘make up the numbers’ in a class so she could pass her RLSS UK TA course. I was 14-years-old at the time and asked that day if I wanted to join Crawley Town Lifesaving Club…I’ve never left!

“Since that day, I’ve been volunteering for roughly seven years now and qualified as an instructor about five years ago.

“My passion lies in getting young people involved in lifesaving, mainly through teaching Rookie Lifeguard and Survive & Save programmes. It is fair to say that seeing youngsters succeed is really what keeps me involved and motivated. It is incredibly rewarding to see someone achieve something through your assistance and guidance.

“It is this involvement with young people that brought me to apply for the Trustee Youth Advisor position. There is so much potential for the Charity by engaging young people more effectively and I wanted to see if I could tap into that.

“The Board of Trustees is the highest level of our Society, where all the main decisions ranging from financial, future direction, communications and staffing, are made. I took great pleasure in being able to contribute at this level but have to admit, I was grateful I had no legal responsibilities at that stage.

“My role meant I had to absorb and implement the strategies and recommendations drawn together by the Senior Leadership Team, contributing where appropriate, to the Board meetings directly. I have also joined the Governance Committee, which oversees how the Charity operates from a UK legislative perspective.

“Away from the boardroom, I had plenty of responsibility for the youngsters already involved with RLSS UK and encouraging yet more to do so too. With this in mind, I worked through a re-vamp of our Youth Strategy, successfully appointing the RLSS UKs first Youth Leadership Team (YLT).

“The YLT have done some phenomenal work in a short space of time, and this is a real testament to their dedication to the task in hand, namely - engaging young people in drowning prevention activities, education and training, spreading lifesaving skills, advice and messages to a wide and varied audience.

“All this has kept me pretty busy during my term as Youth Advisor and I feel very strongly, that the Charity is now in a position to take our key aim for youth engagement forward:

RLSS UK is committed to the ongoing Engagement, Enhancement, Development and Active Involvement of young people in the Society’s ambitions.”

“During my term I saw my main role as creating a legacy for young people:

Extending our resources beyond the comprehensive skillset we have in and on the water, to utilise, for the good of the Charity, the other myriad interests of our young members: photography, social networking, Scouting leaders and digital media are just some examples of additional skills, that we might be able to use for a mutual advantage.

Ensuring RLSS UK has young people willing, trained and ready to sustain our ambitions, future-proofing the organisation for generations to come.

“My role was rewarding, fast-paced and exciting.  I was exposed to things that I normally wouldn’t.

“Being in the role highlighted what incredible work our staff, volunteers, associates and partners do to prevent drowning across the UK and Ireland, that for me, that was truly inspiring.”