Toby Shepherd, 21, is the Club Secretary at Droylsden Life Saving Club in Manchester as well as a qualified RLSS UK Lifeguard.

Toby first joined the lifesaving club in 2008 aged 7, after attending an Open Water Life Saving session at Fleetwood Beach and Debdale Reservoir, and just a year after he began taking part in sessions, aged 8.

In 2014, Toby completed his Survive & Save bronze core award, closely followed by his silver core award in 2015.

Toby’s older siblings became RLSS UK qualified lifeguards through the club, when they turned 16, Toby said: “I used to stay behind after Life Saving Sessions and help clean up the leisure centre with my sister and I loved every minute of it.”

Shortly after Toby’s own 16th birthday, he passed his National Pool Lifeguard Qualification (NPLQ) and Toby said: “I was very excited to start my journey as a RLSS UK lifeguard.”

Toby was able to help lifeguard at festivals through his lifesaving club, such as the Just So Festival and the Geronimo Festival, as well as helping at The Great Swim Series.

After finishing high school, Toby moved to Cornwall to study Watersports at Falmouth Marine School. During his three years of studying Toby worked as a lifeguard and swim teacher.

Toby has continued to be involved in the lifesaving club, holding roles such as a Volunteer Lifeguard, and Admin Officer, then during the pandemic Toby began to take on additional commitments.

Toby said: “Within my role as Admin Officer I was doing a few of the Club Secretary tasks, and with COVID-19 and other commitments the previous Club Secretary left, so I submitted my interest into the role at an Annual General Meeting (AGM). The Committee agreed, as I had worked hard over COVID-19 doing policies and procedures, to website development, that I was the best suit for the role as I had been conducting most of the tasks.”

In October 2020 Toby completed his Trainer Assessor course and in September 2021, Toby became the Club Secretary for Droylsden Lifesaving Club.

Toby said: “Currently I am going to work for PGL for 2 months I have been in contact with RLSS UK about running emergency response courses on cruise ships. I am a freelance lifeguard and Trainer Assessor for Active Tameside and really enjoyed driving around running sessions at the 5 centres they run. I haven’t really got a plan for the future but I really enjoy doing stuff for the club and RLSS UK and hope to carry on my love for lifesaving and share this with everyone.”

In 2022, a 14-year-old named Lucy Smith unfortunately drowned after getting into difficulty in the water close to Toby’s club in Manchester, and this sparked Toby to speak out to encourage people to learn more about lifesaving and the dangers of open water.

Toby has been encouraging members of the public to learn basic lifesaving skills to prevent tragedies in similar scenarios. Toby is also pushing for lifesaving sessions to be implemented into the school curriculum to give everyone the opportunity to have the right skills and knowledge around water safety.

Toby said: “Most drowning are preventable; lifesaving is an amazing skill to have under your belt and you never know where and when you might need to use them. It’s just amazing to think that you can just trust someone to look after you and get you the help you need if you are unable to yourself.”

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