Hear from Jude, Sophia and Olivia from Littlehampton Wave Lifesaving Club about why they volunteer.

“We are Jude (16), Sophia (15) and Olivia (16). We joined Littlehampton Wave Lifesaving Club over four years ago. Since then, our lifesaving journey has developed with our volunteering experience, and we’ve loved every minute of it.

Why did you join the Club?

"We all joined the club for the same reason; when we became 16, we wanted to complete our National Pool Lifeguard Qualification (NPLQ), and thought it might help us to prepare for that. This definitely came true, and it has taught us so much over the years, for the NLPQ, and more. However, what we didn’t realise at the time was all the other support and opportunities we would gain through the club.

Tell us about Local Awareness Events...

"We have volunteered at many different events, gaining hours towards the William Henry Award. At outreach events we spend our time spreading the word of water safety and the benefits of being a member of our lifesaving club. Living close to the sea and the River Arun, we know that raising awareness in the community about water safety, could save lives. This is one of the many reasons (admittedly another of which includes watching Jude dress up in our Norman costume), that we volunteer at events. We help to set up promotional stands, talk to potential new members, and hear people's stories. We take it in turns to dress up as the club mascot, Norman the Newfie, for which Sophia completed a voluntary sponsored abseil to raise the money to buy.

About the Lifesaving Club

"As a club we have loads of fun during training nights and special events, which support the community and raise awareness, but also allow us to have fun at the same time. For example, we have a special Red Nose Comic Relief event each year, this year we had a Coronation crown competition, a pancake race, and we took part in local street carnivals. We also represented the club at Remembrance Day.

As some of the senior club members, we are (for reasons we cannot understand) seen as role models for the younger, newer members. We offer advice to help them to improve their skills as we watch them learn the same things we now know. During our journey with the lifesaving club two of us have now become old enough to train to be RLSS UK Instructors. This involved attending a course, followed by a number of hours training and assessing others in order to become instructors. Doing this training course enables us to volunteer and teach others as we have been taught, therefore ‘paying on’ the time volunteers have put into us. In addition, this has given us the opportunity to develop leadership skills, communications skills, and confidence. It also looks amazing on our CVs!

Our work with the club hasn’t always been easy. Covid lockdowns presented challenges, but also opportunities, as we worked with David (lead instructor and club founder) to explore the online world of communication to continue volunteering for our club. For example, partly to keep fitness levels up and partly to continue to increase awareness, Olivia, supported by our club, completed a sponsored ‘run the channel’ to raise money and awareness for the lifesaving cause. 

How has volunteering benefited you?

"Giving our time and energy to Littlehampton Life Saving Club and to the wider world of water safety has enabled us to develop as a group and increase our team working skills. We have competed in various team competitions and achieved some fantastic results. To name just a few, Sophia and Jude came first in last year’s Sussex Junior Mixed Competition. Sophia and another member (Tassia) came second in last year’s regionals, and Olivia and another member (Jack) came first in the Sussex RLSS UK mixed pairs.

This was all due to volunteers like David Slade and the amazing way he has taught us. The inspiration he has given us has meant we are all now keen and actively working to continue to develop our own skills so that we can help younger members compete for some of the same awards.

Our awards

"To celebrate and honour the competitions we have entered and the volunteer work we have committed to, we have won many other awards. Olivia won a RLSS UK Honour in 2021 and Jude and Sophia are due to be presented with one this year. Sophia has also won 2022’s Young Personality of the Year for Littlehampton, with Jude also commended, the Arun Rotary Young Personality Award 2022 and the RLSS UK Ken White Trophy. None of us imagined we could achieve all of this when we joined the club four years ago and they could not have been achieved without giving our time to outreach activities, supporting the club with raising funds and helping with newer members of the club.

We have been helped so much by other volunteers giving their time and efforts, and we are enjoying the opportunity to develop our own volunteering more through being instructors for future members so that we, and them, can continue spreading the word of water safety in our local area."

"Being a member of the club and taking on volunteering roles has been immensely enjoyable. Feeling that you are giving something back to the community and potentially helping to save lives is a great feeling to have.

It has enabled us to meet and work with people from different backgrounds, different ages and with different attitudes. It has also given us membership of a caring community group who we are so proud to represent.”