An RLSS UK lifeguard and training assessor is one of Britain’s best older workers according to People Management magazine’s top 50 workers aged over 50.

Janet Appleyard, who works at Chadderton Wellbeing Centre, part of Oldham Community Leisure (OCL), was unaware that OCL’s head of human resources had nominated her for the awards, which are voted for by the public.
Janet came 7th in the prestigious awards, which included names like Prof. Stephen Hawkins, as well as a Lord, a Dame, doctors, a surgeon, a barrister and campaigners.

“Being voted one of Britain’s best workers means so much to me.  I just could not believe it – I’m over the moon,” she said.

The 61-year-old joined the company 24 years ago as a cleaner and café assistant to earn some money while her daughter was young.

“I couldn’t swim and my manager at the time encouraged me to attend adult learner sessions. From there, I progressed to attending a staff lifeguard training session to act as a casualty. This encouraged me to join Oldham Lifesaving club where I passed my RLSS UK pool lifeguard qualification in 1993,” she added.

Ten years ago, Janet became a trainer assessor completing both the RLSS UK and NARS qualifications, and she now works full time as a team leader and conducting lifeguard training sessions for staff.

She said: “I love working in the leisure industry and enjoy the unique camaraderie between customers and my fellow staff. Being a lifeguard has benefited my career enormously. I wouldn’t be where I am today without it.”

One of the high points of Janet’s lifeguarding career was when she helped rescue two girls while on holiday in Crete.

“A friend and I (also a lifeguard) went on a boat trip. While we were swimming in the sea, the boat moved its position which panicked two Russian girls. They were clinging on to each other and pulling each other under the water. My friend and I supported them when my friend’s husband, who was also swimming, suddenly got cramp. She went to assist him and I brought the two girls into the boat by myself. This made me very proud – it doesn’t bear thinking about what could have happened otherwise,” says Janet.

“I would and do encourage others to train and become lifeguards. Not only is it a fantastic job; it’s a life skill and great fun.”