Sheena Harper, Chair of Beeslack Lifesaving Club and Lead Coordinator of the Durham, Northumberland & Scotland Coordinating Group, has volunteered with RLSS UK for over 50 years. She shares her volunteering journey with us here:

"Just over 50 years ago my sister came home from school telling me about a Bronze Medallion course starting on a Saturday morning, did I want to go? The answer was yes as it was swimming but not club swimming. At the time I knew nothing about the RLSS UK & Ireland or what it stood for but that was my introduction to the lifesaving family.  By the time I left to go to University I was an examiner and teacher for the Society (in the time before TAs and instructors).

"Since those first days I have maintained my association with the Society and now have a very good grasp of its aims and values. Over the years my activity within the Society has varied depending upon the other things going on in my life. When at University I ran the lifesaving club (this was in the days before BULSCA and competitions) and then when my children were young, I only did a few assessments a year. Since moving up to Scotland about 30 years ago and with my life becoming more settled, I have taken on a more consistently active role within the Society. This ability to do as much or a little as you are able to do is one of the things I value about volunteering for the Society, along with being able to move between branches depending upon where you are based (I can claim to have been a member of 5 different branches over the years, in three of the home nations).

"There is such a wide variety of voluntary roles available within the Society there will be something for everyone. I have coached a local club of which I am currently chair. I have held most of the branch roles and am currently the Scottish Ambassador, but alongside this I was the project lead for the Don’t Drink and Drown campaign at its inception and have also held other national volunteering roles. My main interest is around education and this links with by background as a retired primary school teacher. Although I have never competed competitively in lifesaving, I have enjoyed my sport journey by becoming an international sport official, officiating at National and Speed events. It had been my hope to be at the Commonwealth’s in Leeds but a health issue prevented that, which leads me to another important point about volunteering for the Society - I am not longer able to walk up and down a poolside so coaching and officiating is no longer an option for me but this does not mean that I have been shelved.

"Northumberland and Durham branch along with the Scottish region have been hibernated as they form the pilot for a new and exciting way for volunteers to work and I am the Lead Coordinator for this project. This is a new and exciting challenge which I am still able to fully engage with, despite my acquired physical disability. The pilot is trialling a new way of working, a way to provide increased support to enhance water safety awareness, advice, and training into local communities. The aim of this pilot is to build more long-lasting relationships with people in local communities, by establishing Hubs across the region which will act as a bridge between local activity and RLSS UK & Ireland itself. This will ensure as many people as possible are given the opportunity to enjoy water safely and access our water safety knowledge and resources."