I'm Tracy, 53 and I live in Barnsley. I am a Senior Executive Assistant working within the Education sector and I'm an Open Water Lifeguard and triathlete in my spare time.

I started open water swimming at a local lake (Manvers Waterfront Boat Club) in 2018 and two years later the club offered me the opportunity to train to be an Open Water Lifeguard, this was something I was eager to do so I could give back to the club by lifeguarding swim sessions.

I completed my lifeguard qualification in August 2020 and then started to volunteer every week at the club. I found that I loved being a lifeguard and it didn't take long for me to realise that my qualification opened up a whole new world of volunteering outside of my local lake that I was keen to discover.

My first event was The Great North Swim in 2021. We were still working to Covid rules at this time and we were all staying in a local hotel rather than at Brathay where everyone stays in one house and we are in dorm-type rooms. When I arrived I didn't know anyone yet very quickly I was welcomed to the group, there were people of all ages, some people who were veterans at the event and also a couple of newbies like me.

Roles during the weekend include bank safety as the swimmers enter the water, here we love to give encouragement and there is always a lot of excited banter between the swimmers Otherwise you could be on the swim exit, where elated but often very tired swimmers sometimes need a helping hand out of the water, this is my favourite role as it is very rewarding congratulating the swimmers. Or you could be the lifeguard on one of the safety/rescue boats that patrol the lake picking up any swimmers who find that they can't continue for whatever reason. They can be long days on or in the water but the team around you always makes the day go by with a laugh. In the evening everyone gets together for food and then after we socialise in the house where there is a table tennis table or sometimes head out with paddleboards for an evening paddle or swim. By the end of the weekend, I had made some good friends and I couldn't wait to volunteer for my next event. This year I will be going back for the fourth time.

There are lots of different events that you can volunteer for; I went to my first-ever festival last year at Secret Garden Party where I worked the night shift making sure that the festival goers were safe around the water during the night. It was a brilliant experience although the nights were long and it rained for most of them but it's one that I'm looking forward to doing again this year - I've even added a couple more festivals to my diary.

I live about 90 minutes away from Nottingham so I have volunteered at a lot of the events held there which are run by Colwick Lifeguards on behalf of the RLSS (Riverside Festival, Nottingham Regatta, Head of the Trent). Most of these events are on the river Trent so you are based in a boat alongside a helm and you are patrolling the river. I have joined as a member of Colwick Lifeguards, they are an amazing group of people and through them, I have gained my RYA Powerboat Level 2 qualification which now allows me to helm the safety boat at events.

I have accumulated over 100 volunteer hours since the start of the William Henry Award and proudly wear my pin badges on my cap.

I can't wait for this season to start and I am looking forward to seeing all the friends that I have made who live all over the country.

Find out more about volunteering for RLSS UK

Become an Event Volunteer for RLSS UK

Take part in the William Henry Award