RLSS UK President Ian Hutchings

Ian has dedicated more than 40 years of his life to lifesaving, having started teaching it voluntarily with his local swimming club at just 14. Ian went on to become a qualified lifesaving instructor two years later and continues to deliver these essential skills.

Ian spent 30 years with the police force, during which he was involved with front line policing as well as specialising as a firearms officer. Throughout this time, Ian competed in a host of lifesaving competitions on the beach and in the pool, winning many National titles in both the police and civilian arena. He also coached and managed a number of police lifesaving teams.

After his retirement from the force, Ian set up his own business delivering lifeguard and first aid training which has been very successful. 

Ian has also coached and managed the GBR lifesaving team and youth team.

 Ian has served on the charity’s development commission as well as taking on the role of Chair of the sports development group which he held for six years. He was elected Deputy President of RLSS UK in 2013 and in June 2016, took up the mantle of President.

RLSS UK Deputy President Mark Smith

Mark is believed to have become the youngest Deputy President the society has ever seen when he was elected to the post in 2016.

Mark has been involved in lifesaving and lifeguarding for most of his life, with much of that time spent developing safer open water environments for organised events, specialising in music festivals across the UK, as part of a team based in the Midlands.

As Deputy President, Mark wants to concentrate on reversing the trend, seen over the last few decades, of lifesaving clubs closing down. He is keen to develop ways to make current clubs thrive and strategies to bring about the formation of new ones. Mark also wants to keep a clear focus on how the Society’s drowning prevention message can really hone in on open water issues.

Having been a pool lifeguard himself, Mark knows the merit of our highly trained members and is keen to explore how lifeguards can be further developed to extend our message – as the Drowning Prevention charity – deeper into communities.

Mark has a degree in Business, a Masters degree in Event Management and currently works in leisure & tourism. He is familiar with the changing economy and how this may affect the charity.

Chair of the Board of Trustees, Mike Owen

Mike has 25 years’ management and board experience and joins RLSS UK with a wealth of additional freelance Board/strategy consultant and interim/change CEO expertise. He specialises in not-for-profit bodies, membership associations and family-run enterprises.  

Mike is a senior partner at management consultancy Owen Morris Strategic, which he co-founded, he has an MBA and volunteers as a mentor for Aston Business School.

Mike’s focus will be to work with the Board of Trustees, to provide high levels of strategic insight to shape and govern the future direction of the organisation.

Cavell Burchell, Governance Advisor

After graduating in Economics, Cavell went on to complete a PGCE and embarked on a career in education which has lasted more than 35 years.

Cavell splits his community work between his two main passions, the Scouting Association and RLSS UK.  He is currently Trustee and Vice Chairman of the Bexley District Scouts.

Currently the Governance Advisor for RLSS UK, Cavell has enjoyed two extended periods on the Board of Trustees since being inaugurated in 1995. Previous roles he has undertaken within the Society include Chair of two former National Standing Committees, Branch Chair, RLSS UK Senior Tutor, Staff National Trainer Assessor for Lifesaving, Pool and Beach Lifeguarding and Boat Handling.

In the early 1990s, he was joint lead on the development of the RLSS UK’s National Beach Lifeguard Qualification and was honoured to be nominated by the RLSS Commonwealth to be part of a British Council funded project for two people to visit Sierra Leone to develop and train a Lifeguard Service for Lumley Beach.

In 2016 his contribution to the RLSS was recognised by the Commonwealth body with his nomination as one of the 125 recipients of the HRH Prince Michael of Kent 125th Anniversary Certificate of Merit.

Deborah Hunt, Trustee

Deborah has been a member of RLSS UK for over 43 years and is involved in the society’s community outreach programmes and Lifesaving Sport.

She is well versed in the role requirements for trustee having previously been a trustee of two other charities.  Deborah has vast experience in safeguarding and has assisted in writing the current policy for the society. She helped two large charities with the writing and implementation of their safeguarding policies, both on a voluntary basis.

Deborah joined the police force and enjoyed a career spanning 34 years as a police officer. She spent the last 12 years dealing with the trafficking of children and adults into the UK.

She currently works for the UK Anti-doping organisation as a member of the doping control team, a job Debbie describes as ideal as she gets to watch amazing sportsmen and women compete and then spend time with them.

In addition, she carries out fraud investigations and has just become an observer for the Cross Channel and Pilot federation having successfully completed a cross-channel relay in July with six other female Past Presidents of the Kent Branch

Deborah is a keen technical official for lifesaving sport competitions and recently officiated at her fifth World Lifesaving Championships in The Netherlands.

Bryan Finlay, Trustee

Bryan has been involved with RLSS UK since he was 13-years-of-age when he joined his local lifesaving club. He has since become one of the society’s most dedicated volunteers, giving up his spare time to support both its training and charitable initiatives.

A passionate and proactive volunteer, Bryan is currently responsible for leading and managing over 500 volunteers and spends hours every week delivering lifesaving and water safety training to a whole host of different organisations and communities.

He has been a trustee for RLSS UK for seven years and was involved in many of the national standing committees. He is also Scottish regional chair, a position he is proud to have held for three years.

In addition, Bryan is a great supporter of the British Heart Foundation and the Scottish Austin Charity and dedicates what little spare time he has to these two deserving causes.

Bryan has worked in social care and childcare for a number of years, in addition to the leisure industry. Bryan works in the Scottish Ambulance Services National Risk and Resilience Department, developing community resuscitation initiatives within communities within the east side of Scotland.

Emma Davids, Trustee

Based in Yorkshire, Emma has been a leading volunteer at Bingley Life Saving Club for over 10 years and, professionally, is the IT Programme Manager at Leeds Beckett University.

Having studied at the University of Manchester, Emma graduated with BSc (Hons) in Computer Science, which has proved to be a solid foundation for her IT career. Over the past decade, Emma has held various technical, analyst and managerial roles and currently leads a team of IT Project Managers & Business Analysts.

Volunteering is big part of Emma’s life as she extensively volunteers for RLSS UK at club, branch and national level. Emma is both a Lifesaving & Lifeguarding Trainer Assessor for Bingley Life Saving Club and sits on the committee for the Bradford & Airedale Branch. Away from the water, Emma is also a volunteer for the BCS – The Chartered Institute for IT, of which she holds MBCS status.

Suzanne Gabb, Trustee

Suzanne Gabb moved to the UK from Vancouver, Canada 5 years ago.  She has been involved with the UK RLSS for the past 2 years and the Commonwealth RLSS for the past 16.

She previously studied Business and Sports Science at Trinity Western University and has worked within the Leisure Industry for 18 years within 5 Countries. Suzanne has a diverse experience teaching and managing multiple sports programmes such as adaptive snowsports, football, gymnastics and children’s activities but her main focus over the years has been within the Swimming World. Swimming has always been a part of Suzanne’s life, as a competitive swimmer, water polo player and synchronized swimmer it was a natural fit to begin teaching swimming at 16. She has Lifeguarded, Coached, and Managed multiple outdoor pools within three Countries (Canada, United States and Australia).  Suzanne has introduced a Water Safety Focused Swimming programme to complement the already well established ASA framework. Suzanne believes that operators have an obligation to the children and families within the local area to teach as many individuals how to swim safely in all bodies of water. Swimming is a life-skill and every child deserves the right to learn how to survive in water.

Maggie Bradley, Trustee

Maggie joins RLSS UK as an appointed Trustee.

Maggie has spent 30 plus years in the financial services sector, latterly working in wealth and asset management roles providing advice to private clients on wealth management.

In 2013, Maggie took up a specialised role at Coutts and Co of providing investment advice to charities, foundations and not-for-profit organisations. This has given her great insight into the considerable contribution this sector makes, the challenges it faces and an understanding of the need for good governance.

She has also undertaken a number of roles that involved managing, coaching and mentoring teams.

Richard Rickwood, Trustee

Richard also joins RLSS UK as an appointed Trustee and brings with him acumen from a business career spanning over 30 years.

Richard is ACII qualified and has spent the majority of his career in financial services, he is a Chartered Insurer and has an MBA.

He specialises in leading change and aims to position RLSS UK’s trading subsidiaries as unrivalled in their sector, providing a sustainable footing for the charity’s wider aims and ambitions.

James Cossons, Youth Advisor

James started Life Saving at the age of 14 at a local Life Saving Club. Having developed his own skills he moved on to be an instructor passing when he was 18 and has since trained numerous young people in both Survive & Save and Rookie Awards. In the past four years, he has held various Committee roles, during which James organised multiple school presentations, promotional stands and Save a Life workshops. In 2017, James won the Stanley Peck Trophy for being area organiser of the year.

Having left college with A-Levels in Business Studies, Computing and Electronics he joined his current employer, Aon through their Apprenticeship programme as a Reinsurance Account Manager. Through his work James holds a Certificate in Insurance from the Chartered Insurance Institute.