Member of his local branch for over 30 years, Mike tells us about his relationship with RLSS UK.  

Swimming is my backgroundwhen I was a child we weren’t from an affluent area and didn’t have much money, so swimming was a sport that required nothing but swimming trunksyour ability was what was important, not your specific branded kit. 

I swam competitively and did pretty well, but it was the social aspect that had the biggest impact on me, I made friends for life from the people there 

I started to volunteer at my local club Manchester & District and that was 30 years ago. I still do it today, holding many roles over the years, notably the Chair. It felt like I was giving something back to a hobby that had given me so many good friends, and that was important to me, it still is. 

started to attend some Branch meetings, which back then were predominantly led by police lifesavers. I became more vocal on matters that I was passionate about and was asked to get involved at committee level, I thought why not?’.  

As time went on I got more deeply involved with tutoring; I can recall presenting my sponsorship speech to the Branch Committee for them to support me to do my ‘lifesaving tutor course. Back then the course required a week at a university, so it was a big ask. I was successful though and I’ve never looked back.  

The open water environment really drew me in, so I loved delivering the relevant courses. I was involved with Salt House Dock in Liverpool having friendly competitions with around 10 other members. Wherever there was a pond or an open water pool and the weather was right, we would get into shorts and t-shirt and just have a laugh in the water 

“You wouldn’t do it like that today and I wouldn’t want anyone to copy me either! Things are done a lot more safely these daysEvents require a lot of work to manage their safety and success – it’s a lot to think about. 

I really love the different elements that need consideration with open water that are so different and unpredictable, by comparison to an indoor pool setting. 

“Away from the water’s edge, the best bit about my voluntary work is passing on my knowledge to others.  

“Anyone who knows me knows a love a chat! Grass-roots teaching is my absolute passion; whether it’s highly intelligent young people without an ounce of common sense, or pupils on the autistic spectrumadapting my sessions to ensure everyone comes away achieving something, is very important. 

For every course I deliver, I always learn something from the candidates, 12 candidates give me 12 different perspectives on everything!  

“During my tutor course at Warwick University, we had a simulated situation at the end but with each session, the available equipment we had to hand, changed - this really taught me to improvise.  

Volunteering as a lifesaver, in all its guises, is so special to me. 

When I look back to when I was 21, we’re all invincible then and can do anything, can’t we? But as I have got older and as my physical ability has dropped, my knowledge has grown, so now is the time to share that more.  

Recently weve developed a beach session, pulling together elements from many RLSS UK coursesThis boosts the skills of the diverse learners, helping them have an awesome experience and going away with new behaviours. In June (fingers crossed) the Lancashire and Manchester & District Branches are both at an event run by the premium clothing brand Helly Hanson, which is really exciting. Were hoping this might act as a springboard to setting up an open water lifesaving club, seasonal of course! 

also recognise we need ‘new blood’ to spread the wordI’m nervous and out of my comfort zone when I have to speak in public, but I leave knowing I have made a difference, and have had an impact on the folk there. 

“Earlier this year, I was asked as North West Ambassador to present some awards. I made a point of thanking the parents because after all, without their supportthe accolades would never have been achievedAnyone involved in our activities is part of our great organisation and deserves to be thanked for their time. 

Ultimately, doing all this has been my saviouronce I retired from the police force, having spent so long in an active working environment, I needed something to keep me stimulated. Volunteering has helped me to maintain a purpose after paid employment, it really contributes to my well-being. 

“Lifesaving is about personal experience, not just reading a manual, you need to adapt to any situation you are in. I take reward from sharing valuable skills, seeing others learn and grow through their own experiences.