"It began in the summer of 1964, when I was 11. I had only just learned to swim a few strokes at school. We had been on holiday to Great Yarmouth, where there was a huge open air pool. My father had declared that I was not allowed in it until I could swim 50 yards - but maybe next year! I obeyed, but went home perplexed about how I was going to learn to swim the distance for next year if he wasn't going to let me in the water! We only got 6 weeks of school swimming, and I had already had mine!

Dad told me stories of how he had learned to swim in the river Wharfe in our home town of Otley in West Yorkshire. I continued to listen to his stories of how people had drowned in the river, how the local open air pool was too expensive for his family, and how he had never had the benefit of a swimming teacher. Eventually he agreed that the money I was given on a Saturday to go to the local picture house matinee followed by chips on the way home, could be diverted to the local swimming club in the open air pool on a Thursday night. It was now late August with only a few weeks left before the pool closed for the winter, so I didn't have long to learn to swim that 50 yards. A relative gave me the 4 shillings and 6 pence required for a one month season ticket at the pool and I was there practicing almost all of its opening hours. 

I soon swam the distance, and mindful of Dad's stories, was fascinated by the lifesaving class that happened at the swimming club. From then onwards I was never really interested in competitive swimming, although I did swim butterfly for the Yorkshire Youth Team for a while. By the end of the season, I was the proud holder of an RLSS Unigrip certificate... and the rest is history. I don't remember the full details of this award, but it involved shouting at the victim to turn round, and then towing them 20yards with a version of the chin tow, followed by an instruction to climb out. 

I was hooked on the work of RLSS from then on, becoming a junior instructor and then full instructor as soon as I was old enough. Needless to say Dad was soon happy enough to let me use my own judgement about what water I swam in. 

There were, and still are, plenty of lakes, rivers and beaches involved, and although I never thought of it as such, I developed a keen eye for danger, and the whole process of doing a risk assessment.

I think, over the last 60 years I have worked at every level, and in every area of RLSS activity, even competitions in earlier years, although never any further than club level. I've been an area organiser, Branch Chairman, Regional representative, National Committee Chairman, and Management Board member, often with several roles at once. In addition I have had the privilege of serving on International committees including RLSS Commonwealth and Chairing the ILSE Education commission. I've had many awards and accolades over the years, but none so great as the satisfaction of seeing the work of the society grow from that unigrip certificate to the successful leading position it now has with Pool and Beach Lifeguarding. I have been, and still am, a part of that as a National Trainer Assessor, doing a little paid work, but the majority as a volunteer. There is still much to do in keeping outdoor water venues safer places for leisure activities, and I hope I can contribute to that, as outdoor swimming has always been my passion. 

The outdoor pool in Great Yarmouth and in my home town of Otley, have long since been closed, so RLSS is perhaps more relevant today than ever, as people seek other outdoor water to swim in. It is hugely satisfying to pass on knowledge and skill to others, but even more so when you know that lives could be saved as a result of it. My story is therefore one of personal satisfaction at making a difference, and meeting some wonderful like minded people along the way. My service with RLSS and in many other walks of life, has always been firmly routed in the motto of the Society which says 'whom so ever you see in distress, recognise in him a fellow man'."