Awarded the British Empire Medal (BEM) in the New Year Honours list 2021, Joshua Hale is currently Volunteer Co-ordinator for Bath University Students’ Union and Chair of RLSS UK Avon & North Somerset Branch. 

In his own words, Joshua recounts how he started as a lifeguard and how that role has led him to a career in the third sector: 

I started as a volunteer lifeguard in 2008 and ever since then, I have been passionate about volunteering and the wider charity (third) sector.  

I studied a BSc and MSc in Psychology at Swansea University and while I was there, I spent most of my spare time volunteering with the on-campus student-led charity, Discovery. At university I spent eight years with their lifesaving club and competing in BULSCA competitions. During my masters I also joined the Mumbles Lifeguard Club.  

In my final two years of university, I was the RLSS UK’s Ambassador for Wales, a role which helped elevate my volunteering work. Through this role I was able to run several RLSS UK campaignsworking across Wales with the local branches.  

After graduating from Swansea, I joined the graduate training scheme Charity Sector Leadership and Management through an organisation called Charity Works. As part of the scheme I was lucky enough to be placed with the Royal National Lifeboat Institute as a Change Delivery Co-ordinator for the first half of my placement, and an Inclusion and Diversity Co-ordinator for the second half.  

After finishing the programme, I secured a six-month temporary position in Exeter, as a Community Engagement Co-ordinator for the Student Guild at Exeter University. On leaving Exeter, I started my current role at Bath University, as Volunteering Co-ordinator for the Students Union.  

Over the last 18 months in Bath, I have been involved in various charity opportunities including becoming Chair for RLSS UK’s Avon & North Wiltshire Branch and joining Moreland Road Community Library as a Trustee .  

“Throughout the pandemic, I’ve been volunteering with Bath and North East Somerset Third Sector Group (3SG). 3SG are set up to give a voice to and support local charities, community groups and social enterpriseswith the shared aim of supporting people in need and building strong local communities 

“As you can imagine, it’s been a hectic time for everyone involved in 3SG’s work but an incredibly rewarding experience. To be awarded the British Empire Medal for my work with them, was a huge surprise and a great honour. 

“Looking back over the past few years, it’s clear that my first foray into the voluntary sector as a lifeguard had a big impact on my career path, and I’ve been very fortunate in the opportunities that have come my way. 

“I’m convinced that I wouldn't have been able to achieve my BEM and the successes I’ve had to date, without my background in lifesaving. I’m now looking forward to lockdown lifting and making progress with the work of RLSS UK Avon & North Wiltshire Branch!”