Lifeguards diving thanks to charity partnership

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Foundation and RNLI team up to train lifeguards.

A leading North East charity has helped three teenagers to qualify as lifeguards after diving into a partnership with the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI).

The Foundation of Light, the official charity of SAFC, recently joined forces with RNLI Lifeguards in Sunderland for a special course designed to promote beach and sea safety among young adults.

And now, three of the course’s participants - James Corner, Aston Crawford and Jake Herron – have completed an additional qualification, which will allow them to work with the RNLI, the charity that saves lives at sea, guarding the region’s beaches.

Simon Bristow, RNLI Lifeguard Supervisor for Tyne and Wear, said: “The course we run with the Foundation of Light is specifically designed to help reduce beach and sea-related accidents among the age group most at risk.

“I’m delighted that James, Aston and Jake not only took this on board for themselves, but also used it as a springboard to gain further qualifications and ultimately to help protect other people using beaches across the North East.”

The Foundation of Light’s two day course, which is open to 13-19 year olds across the North East, includes a mix of practical and theory sessions, covering everything from accident prevention, survival and rescue to life support and first aid.

After successfully completing the course, James, Aston and Jake were all inspired to gain official accreditation as lifeguards and have since all achieved their National Beach Lifeguard Qualification (NBLQ) with the Royal Life Saving Society.

James, 17, from Washington, has been putting his accreditation to good use by spending the summer patrolling the beaches of the North East as a lifeguard for the RNLI, while Aston and Jake, both 16 and from Sunderland, plan to apply for similar positions next season.

James said: “I learnt a lot from the Foundation of Light’s two day course.  Before that I hadn’t thought about being a lifeguard but it really inspired me to pursue it further.  I had a great time working with the RNLI this summer and I hope to do so again in the very near future.”

The beach and sea safety course, which is free to attend, forms part of the Foundation of Light’s Kicks scheme, which runs a variety of courses designed to help teenagers to reach their full potential.

This includes fire safety with the Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service Phoenix Project, anti-social behavior and drug awareness with the Northumbria Police, Sea Angling with Fishing North East and driver safety with TeenDrive. 

Combined with the Foundation’s other sport and education-based activities, these courses benefit more than 42,000 young people and families across the North East every year. 

Kicks Co-ordinator Ian Corner, said: “Activities like the sea and beach safety course are a great way of helping to protect young people and raise awareness of the risks they may face in various situations.

“It’s great to see that our work is not only fulfilling that aim but also inspiring participants like James, Aston and Jake, to pursue new career paths.”

For more information about the sea and beach safety scheme or other programmes being run by the Foundation of Light’s Kicks team, please contact Ian Corner at ian.corner@safc.com.