Published 20 June 2013

After spending the first part of the eve of the awards morning continuing to edit videos, I left home for the three-hour drive to Cranage Hall at 7.30am. I arrived ready for a team meeting with Alex and the Customer Engagement Managers. We finished the meeting with a brief about the IQL Seminar and Lifeguard Awards and final preparation started.

Jobs understood, we split off and carried out our work. Alex went to collect Dr Handley from Holmes Chapel station, last minute panic purchases were needed so Danielle was driving off to Northwich to collect a tripod. Simon, Helen and Ian started preparing the registration desk and as the boss had arrived, Tara and I went through her presentation and the awards ceremony logistics.

Dinner time arrived but so did the staging company so Tara and I ate our dinner on a makeshift table whilst playing the presentations and videos through on the big screen so that we knew it was all perfect for Friday.  After the final checks were made, registration area set up and we were happy with the room layout it was off to bed at 10.30pm.

Friday morning started at 7.00am and after a quick cup of tea and slice of toast the remainder of the registration area was set up. Banners were put up in the Seminar rooms, laptops were set and presentations loaded and in the main room Alex was having one last run through of his First Aid presentation. Outside the main room John and Noel from Lifesavers Direct were hanging merchandise for delegates to look through and the ladies from Laerdal had set up their stand.

Delegates started arriving from 8.00am and the lifeguarding chatter began. The Customer Engagement Managers were registering people, Tara and Di were meeting and greeting and I was responsible for the presenters and awards finalists. Each presenter and finalist was given the grand tour and a run through of the day by me and I let them know what was store for each of them. Each time I went in to the main room with a finalist or presenter and saw the number of seats laid out and the staging looking so perfect, with our logo across the screen, I was proud of what the team had organised.

Everybody arrived in good time and the networking before the opening presentation was brilliant, it was great to see our workforce and customers so engaged with one another. Tara kicked off on time and welcomed everyone and then Alex gave a great presentation on our new First Aid qualifications. Everyone seemed pleased with what Alex had got to say. Whilst Alex and Tara were doing the Q and A, Vicki and I were making sure that everything was set up for the seminars that were to follow. Within minutes the doors flew open from the main room and delegates were flocking for more tea and coffee. Those staff dressed in the blue and green RLSS UK t-shirts were then acting as traffic controllers making sure that each person got into the seminars that they were registered to attend.

The seminars went off without a hitch, I presented at two and chaired another. There were some extremely powerful and informative stories being told and it was great to get feedback from the delegates directly and share best practice amongst those that attended.

Mark Foster arrived on time, excitedly greeted by Tara and Vicki and he made his way to the main room for lunch. Lunch was great, swiftly served and eaten, although Vicki, me and the photographer for the day ate our lunch in the corridor to allow for delegates that had not quite found the right seat to sit in!!

The Awards Ceremony was amazing and it went like clockwork. The finalists, VIPs and sponsors were all ushered on to the stage at the right time and the citations about each finalist were poignant and appreciated by all of those in attendance. The Lifeguard of the Year Award videos were priceless, being able to share inspirational stories of Lifeguard dedication, teamwork and rescues really hit the right note with the delegates in the audience. I was watching the finalists reactions as the videos were being played, whilst they may have felt a little awkward at seeing themselves on the big screen, you could also notice the sense of pride they had – rightly so, too, as they were outstanding.

Mark Foster was last on stage, giving a motivating keynote speech, sharing his thoughts on his career and giving the audience an insight in to the life of a top class athlete. As Mark was speaking it was great for me to able to watch the faces of those attending, you could tell that they were keen to hear every word Mark had to say.

Finally, the ‘lump in the throat’ moment came. Even though I had been involved in the organisation of the day and had seen the closing video a number of times before, I was choked by the reaction that I saw from people when the video was played. At one point Tara turned around to look for me and with the smile on her face we both knew at that point that we had judged the mood perfectly with the final video. It was heartfelt. We said on the video that the people in the room were an inspiration, they were and they will continue to be whilst they continue to save lives.