Alan Sutherland Having started his lifesaving journey at the University of Bath and the British University Lifesaving Clubs Association (BULSCA), Alan has become instrumental in the development of two local clubs, at branch and regional level. Still only in his 20s and in addition to his full-time role in engineering, Alan is Ambassador for the West of England, supporting the development of lifesaving and drowning prevention initiatives across Somerset, Gloucestershire and Avon & North Wiltshire. To add to that, he is also a joint competition organiser for the RLSS UK Speed Championships and recent recipient of a William Henry Award. Known for his positive and proactive approach, Alan is a great personality with the drive, skills and experience to have a massive impact for the charity on a local and national level. Here Alan tells his story: It feels like a lifetime ago when my grandmother had an accident, just a few weeks before I started university. I was the first to reach her and I clearly remember having no real idea what to do. Help arrived and thankfully my grandmother was alright but I ended up with the classic symptoms of shock, although I didn’t know it at the time! A few weeks later I started at the University of Bath and was introduced to the lifesaving club during Fresher’s Week. I decided to try it out; everyone was really friendly. I learnt some first aid, which gave my confidence a boost after what had happened with my grandmother and I could enjoy being in the water at the same time. It was a win-win situation! I’ve been volunteering with RLSS UK since December 2006, when I became a probationary Lifesaving TA and started teaching within the lifesaving club. It’s the breadth of different opportunities within lifesaving, that has kept me engaged and enthused over the years. It’s still a fantastic feeling, when someone tells you they have used the skills you taught them to save a life. Now it’s 2017 and, it’s fair to say, I find myself fully immersed in the lifesaving communities of my three regional branches. Currently I’m teaching at both the Wells and Yeovil Lifesaving Clubs as a Survive & Save Instructor Tutor, as well as an NPLQ TA. I’m also involved as the Branch Administrator and Safeguarding Officer for Somerset. At the risk of blowing my own trumpet, I’m involved in Lifesaving Sport as a National Official and a Branch Official Tutor and I’ve recently been selected as Deputy Organiser for Speeds 2018. Crucially, it’s my role as West Region Ambassador that has opened my eyes to seeing drowning from a different perspective. In Bath, I’ve been working with a family of one of the recent River Avon drownings where our main focus is a project to reduce drownings in the river there and things have been progressing well; I’ve completed the first stage of a risk assessment of that stretch of the River Avon and I’m now preparing the findings to develop a strategy to reduce drownings locally. Being so close to such a great tragedy emphasises and makes real, the value and importance of the work done by RLSS UK volunteers and local partners such fire and rescue services, the RNLI, local council, Police and Coastguard. We all have the potential to affect a huge change – every life saved is important and precious. Over the last year or so, I’ve spent a lot of time travelling to BULSCA, police forces, club and regional lifesaving competitions to officiate in various roles and I’ve run a couple Branch Official training sessions. I had the privilege to co-write one of the initiatives for the NLSC Final 2016 and was involved in organising and teaching at the West Region Open Water Festival at Marine Lake, Clevedon. I’ve instigated a growing relationship with Taunton Fire Station to spread the water safety message in the local area, this has included a joint event in Taunton to educate the public with more events planned later this year. I’ve represented RLSS UK at a few local events and at the launch of the virtual reality (VR) drowning video developed by Devon and Somerset Fire Rescue Service. I accepted the kind invitation to give a speech at the River Avon Memorial Walk in Bath but the highlight had to be the honour of being awarded the Prince Michael of Kent 125 Service and Merit Award. Being presented to the HM Queen and Duke of Edinburgh at Buckingham Palace was a nerve wracking, exciting, but very special occasion. I was over the moon my mother was able to join me for the evening reception.