RLSS UK Lifeguard, Gabriel (Gabe) Lawless was on duty at Strode Pool in Somerset on 18 March when swimmer Rod Kerr, 72, was celebrating his birthday with a swim in the main pool.

However, when Rod entered the pool, things went wrong and his friend Viv Morris witnessed Rod as he stopped breathing and "turned blue".

Gabe noticed that Rod was face down in the water and he leapt into action and with the help of Viv pulled Rod from the water. Viv said “He had gone blue in the face and he wasn’t breathing, so the lifeguard started chest compressions immediately to try to resuscitate him. Most of the pool team were there by this stage because an alarm had gone off.”

The pool had been cleared of all swimmers, except for one lady, Alison Parkman, who was a nurse and was able to assist the team.

As Gabe performed CPR on Rod, other staff came to Rod’s aid and assisted Gabe as he was shocked twice with a defibrillator. The team believed that Rod hadn’t made it and Viv was about to speak with Rod’s wife to tell her the awful news when the Pool Manager, Joe Pullen, announced that Rod had gained consciousness.

The air ambulance arrived on scene, but thanks to Gabe’s quick thinking and lifesaving actions, Rod was able to get himself onto the ambulance stretcher and was then taken to hospital by ambulance.

Viv and Rod’s wife Doreen went with Rod to the hospital as he had a defibrillator fitted. Viv explained “His doctors have said he can't go in the sauna anymore because that lowers your blood pressure, but he can still swim.”

Gabe was awarded the Certificate of Meritorious Action for Lifeguards by RLSS UK for his lifesaving efforts.

To show their gratitude to the staff at Strode Swimming Pool, Viv, Rod, and others from St Dunstan's masons have raised £600 for new pool equipment. Viv added "We thought it would be nice to do something for the pool because they were so good with Rod.

"We got them some radios and life jackets - stuff they said they needed.”

Gabe added “I am overjoyed at how well Rod Kerr has recovered since the incident. During the incident I felt I was well trained and work with a close professional team where we we’re able to perform the rescue at a high standard. This is the best job I have ever had.”


  • If you’re interested in acquiring invaluable lifesaving skills by becoming a lifeguard, find a lifeguard course near you and #BeALifesaver. There are currently over 350 NPLQ lifeguard courses in July and August across the country.
  • The National Pool Lifeguard Qualification (NPLQ) is a fantastic springboard for careers, from the emergency services and military to the leisure sector. #IStartedAsALifeguard
  • If you’d like to invest in a Defibrillator, visit the RLSS UK Shop to view our range. Every time you purchase from our shop, 100% of the profit goes into supporting our Charity’s vision - nations without drowning where everyone can safely enjoy being in, on or near water.
  • Please sign and share our petition to remove VAT from the cost of Automated External Defibrillators (AED). We want to help make these vital bits of kit more affordable and encourage more businesses and individuals to fund these, making them widely available and helping save lives.