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Life-saving role for wheelchair-user Helen

A London woman has become the first wheelchair-user in the UK to qualify as both a swimming teacher and lifeguard.

Helen Bull, who is employed as a swimming teacher at the prestigious London Aquatics Centre, at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, retrained through Greenwich Leisure Limited (GLL) College after a break of nearly 20 years. She successfully passed the Royal Life Saving Society UK (RLSS UK) National Pool Lifeguard Qualification (NPLQ) with reasonable adjustments for her needs:

Helen explains:

Being a swimming teacher is the most rewarding job I have ever had, so qualifying through GLL as both a swimming teacher and a lifeguard, has been a huge boost…

The qualifications are tough though; reasonable adjustments don’t mean I get let off with an easier course or assessments. The whole process is as strict for me as for the other candidates.

Ella Gosden, Business Development Manager for GLL College, added:

GLL pride themselves on being open and inclusive employers and we’re particularly keen that passionate and dedicated employees like Helen don’t feel their opportunities are restricted. The diversity of our team goes a long way to attracting and retaining both customers and employees alike.

As the leisure industry continues to look at ways of increasing diversity in the sector and ensuring its workforce is best placed to reflect the communities it serves, campaigns such as the RLSS UK’s #BeaLifesaver and the flexibility of qualifications such as the NPLQ, are becoming increasingly important.

Jo Talbot from the Royal Life Saving Society UK (RLSS UK), said:

Lifeguards and swimming teachers are just two of many roles that can kickstart a career in the leisure industry. Your local leisure operator serves a diverse community of customers and it is in everyone’s interest that their team members reflect this.

As the leading provider of water safety qualifications and training, RLSS UK prides itself on a creative and innovative approach to helping people into work, yet still ensuring our courses maintain and develop the prerequisite rigour and robustness required.

Helen now has her sights set on becoming an RLSS UK Trainer Assessor, so she can share her passion for the water by training others. She added:

I don’t really see my disability as holding me back, I’m just determined to keep doing the work I love the most.

Photo: Helen Bull on lifeguard duty, GLL

 

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