Elaine Lewis has been volunteering with RLSS UK since 1972, which is quite some record. Her volunteering journey started through the Police Cadets and has seen her as teacher, judge, examiner and event organiser.

A passionate exponent of the familial community of  lifesaving and lifeguarding, she tells Lifesavers her story:

“I couldn’t tell you exactly what inspired me to give lifesaving a go but all I do know is that at the age of XXX, I fell in love with it very quickly.

Having started out in the Police Cadets, I soon found myself competing both at a local and national level. Soon after, I joined the Bournemouth Lifeguard Corps (BLGC) and have never really looked back!

I’m still with BLGC as their Rookie Director but amongst many others roles, I have been teacher, examiner and responsible for seeing members through their lifesaving Trainer Assessor course, it’s fair to say I’ve done a bit of everything and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

BLGC has been going strong, patrolling the ever-popular Bournemouth beaches and saving lives since 1965, I’m proud to be associated with that record and sincerely hope to do so for some time yet.

It’s definitely an association that has kept me busy, the last twelve months have been pretty full on:

In my capacity as Rookie Director, I’m responsible for the Rookie provision of the club so I’ve taken the opportunity to run some Rookie Instructor courses. I also like to try and get ‘hands-on’ with the Rookie activities when I can, so I was delighted to take some of the Rookie beach training activities, last summer.

I was particularly pleased to be able to support another local charity, Aquability Bournemouth; they work with disabled people, using swimming and water-based activity to provide therapeutic relief. Some of our younger club members were on hand to act as ‘shadows’ alongside the swimmers, in the water and ready to help if required and alongside other members, I was one of the volunteer lifeguards.

It was a great example of proactive community collaboration.

Other younger members of the club have been engrossed in the Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme, so it’s always rewarding to assist with their progress. The club is also putting through some members through their NPLQ which means we’ll be able to lifeguard our own sessions – a real bonus!

Away from the club environment, the last year has also seen me help with the NVBLQ Trainer Assessor course and I’ve been mentoring some of the candidates. I am the Convenor for Still Water with the College of Referees, so help appoint officials and ensure new recruits are fully supported. I have also taken two additional roles to that of RLSS UK National Organiser.

I’ll be Chief Judge for the Police Lifesaving Championships in June, down in Exeter and the biggest date in my diary this year so far, is organising the Commonwealth Championships in Leeds, this coming November.

When I first agreed to take on the role of National Organiser, I did sort of wonder what I’d got myself into but the combined elements of the role, make for an exciting and varied time.

Things have changed quite a bit since I first started in the role; Elouise’s help makes communication with everyone so much easier but I’m still out visiting venues, checking facilities and equipment, reporting, liaising with officials, the event team and the competitors making sure that everything runs smoothly, not just for the one event but that things are done even better, next time around.

On a personal note, I was overjoyed to be able to visit my daughter in South Africa last May and to meet my latest granddaughter for the first time.

I hope she’ll be one of many I’ll be able to see grow and bloom within the wider lifesaving community, in time.

You may not see fellow lifesavers from one year to the next but you know it’ll always feel like you only saw them yesterday. Such is the family feel of the lifesaving world and with so much opportunity to get involved at many different levels, I’d encourage everyone to give it a go.”