CAN you save a life? More to the point, can you help save a life saving club?

I’ve often made mention in my column of the benefit of volunteering. Jacky Arnold knows this to be true. She is part of a three-man team which, for many years (too many to count) have been running, and teaching, at Woking Life Saving Club.

For the last several years they have been trying to find like-minded folk who will take over from them, but with no success: “So, unfortunately, it has come to the point where we have decided that this is the year that we hang up our ‘life saving hats’. This is particularly hard for the two of us who have been members of the club since we were teenagers, so we have been involved with it, on and off, in various capacities, for at least 40 years,” she said.

I checked the website and saw the line “Lifesaving is one of the only activities that delivers both the physical and mental benefits of sport and physical activity whilst at the same time providing a skill for life that both enriches and could save lives”.

So where are the volunteers? I have commented in the past that if you become a volunteer you will meet many like-minded folk. Someone you meet when volunteering at one place you may find serving you coffee as a volunteer at another.

I have recently met several people who, now retired, have moved into this area to be near their families. This may mean they are on grandparent duties, but it also means they are hale and hearty and having left their old friends and neighbours they are anxious to make new ones, and are interested in volunteering. Or maybe you are retired from teaching or a medical profession with an interest in water/swimming. Would you be interested in helping out at this club so it may get to its 60th anniversary – and beyond?

So what does the Woking Life Saving Club do? It is affiliated to the Royal Life Saving Society (RLSS) and meets on Thursday evenings at Pool in the Park, from 7.15 - 8.00 where all aspects of water safety, some basic first aid and CPR are taught. Then it’s in the pool to learn various skills that come under personal survival, fitness and what to do to help someone, or more than one person, who has got into difficulty in the water.

In July they move from the pool to the lake for open water training at the Quays in Mytchett. They go further afield: a couple of days at Durley Chine in Bournemouth where they join another volunteer club: the Bournemouth Lifeguard Corps.

All this training is done so that the club members can achieve the RLSS Survive & Save awards at the three different levels - Bronze , Silver and Gold.

We have been delighted that our son has been able to be a part of the lifesaving group at Woking. Our son has learnt invaluable skills in the time that he has been doing life saving, as well as keeping up his fitness."

Parents on the work of the Woking Life Saving Club

We are hoping for warm days ahead when we can relax by rivers, lakes and the sea. With many public pools closed or threatened with closure trying to each everyone to swim and to be aware of the dangers of water is absolutely essential. 

Jacky said: “The club currently has 23 members between the ages of 12 and 18, who are all really super kids with very supportive parents and a waiting list of children ready to start in September. Many of these children start with us as part of doing their Duke of Edinburgh awards and have ended up staying with us for three years or more.

“Six of the older members have been training to be assistant teachers and are hoping the club will continue so they can keep teaching, such as Ben, who is 19 years old and has gone through all the awards. He is about to complete his training to be a fully qualified teacher and would also like to keep teaching at the club.”  

On hearing the news about the possibility of the club folding here is what one of the parents told wrote: “We have been delighted that our son has been able to be a part of the lifesaving group at Woking. Our son has learnt invaluable skills in the time that he has been doing life saving, as well as keeping up his fitness. It is a lovely small group and I feel my son’s confidence has grown in this group.

“We particularly like the fact that the young people have a chance to practice their skills in open water too with sessions at lakes and the beach. No matter how hard you swam them, he always came home with a smile on his face. Thank you so much for all the time, effort and dedication you have put into making this such a successful and fun club.”

Jacky and the two others feel so guilty about leaving the current members but life takes you in different directions and at 71 years of age, Margaret, one of the other teachers, definitely deserves the rest. I think, after all that time with the Club, none of them have any need to feel guilt.

Anyone who wishes to help out Jacky can get in touch at [email protected] or through their Facebook page RLSS Woking Life Saving Club.