Author Alison AllardAlison Allard first became involved with lifesaving when she joined Hemel Hempstead Lifesaving Club at 15 years old as a way to meet new friends, keep fit and learn new skills.

At the time the lifesaving club was twinned with Neu-Isenburg in Germany, Alison explains “Every year there would be a fabulous opportunity to meet up in each other’s country and of course a complex lifesaving competition was the highlight of the trip.

“The first year I joined, the lifesaving competition was organised in Windsor on the Thames river using a rescue boat - the language barrier to ensure the girls team, managing a fast flowing river, giving clear simple instructions  was as strong as the boys and was totally thrilling.”

During her time at the lifesaving club Alison earned the prestigious RLSS UK Bronze Medallion and her passion for lifesaving grew from there.

“Once I received the Bronze Medallion, age 16, it allowed me the opportunity to train new recruits, usually age nine years upwards. There were dry drills for 30mins teaching how to resuscitate a manikin and then 50 minutes training in the water. Teaching younger members was daunting at first, however, to see improvements in the younger members week after week and gain confidence, made me feel very proud.”

Alison then progressed with her career and trained to be a nurse and in December 2022 she was awarded the title of Queen's Nurse. The title of Queen’s Nurse is available to individual nurses who have demonstrated a high level of commitment to patient care and nursing practice.

“The training and experience I gained from the lifesaving club was vital. Apart from learning to successfully resuscitate and ensure myself and others knew about water safety, the opportunity to go to another country and see another ‘new world’, how people live, eat and play at such a young age was inspiring. Learning the art of patience with language barriers and clear concise communication is something I use every day as a nurse, this skill was directly learned from attending the lifesaving Club.”

Alison has now been a nurse for over 42 years and has been able to work with some inspirational staff members and many memorable patients who she says taught her that kindness, patience, and trust is the key to success.

Recently, Alison has expanded her skills and involvement with lifesaving as she has written a children’s book which includes elements of water safety.

“I truly believe reading stories to children is vital for their development, growth and inspiration. The pleasure of reading to my children and now grandchildren is immense. As a nurse stories are a powerful tool to assist patients and families to understand any situation, and together shape safe outcomes.

“People have told stories since the beginning of time and the magic of a new book with glorious illustrations sparks a special bond with the reader and listener. I really enjoy reading and the magic of a new book, that earlier this year I published my first children’s book ‘Big Life for a Little Leaf’ which explores bravery, adventures and the importance of wise teachings. Young children learn key messages by reading. In the book, Little Leaf is frighteningly blown in the water, but remembers Owl's important lesson ‘Lie on your back and breathe deeply.’

Alison is following the current Water Safety (Curriculum) Bill which is going through the various stages in Parliament currently (May 2023).

“Drowning is the third most common cause of accidental death in children. This could be avoided if children are taught the dangers of water. To be able to teach children the confidence and competence of water safety is a vital life skill. Every child’s life must be seen as a priority and simple key water safety messages can save the heartache for families of losing a child in such a devastating and unnecessary way. RLSS UK should be applauded for supporting the Water Safety (Curriculum) Bill which, if agreed, ensures every single child will be taught water safety in schools and save lives.”

Alison has been involved with lifesaving for many years and loves being a part of the community.

“Working with energetic like minded people striving to make a difference teaching key water safety messages and saving lives.”

Big Life for a Little Leaf has been illustrated by Wendy Manly and can be purchased on Amazon.

Find your local club

Learn more about lifesaving awards