MEMBERS of Woking Life Saving Club received their awards for continuing their studies and training during the pandemic lockdowns despite not having access to a pool.

The club held its first awards evening since 2019, when Royal Life Saving Society medals and certificates achieved were presented.

“We are thrilled that, over the last two years, all the members have passed the society’s medallion at the level they were working to,” said club instructor Jacky Arnold. “Nearly all of them also achieved the still water and beach award too.

“The highest award achievable is the distinction and this is awarded when three out of the four strands are passed at the gold level. Once our members have obtained the distinction they are offered the chance to train to become assistant teachers.”

Woking Mayor Liam Lyons presented the awards during a ceremony at the Pool in the Park.

This club has been run by volunteers for 58 years, meeting at swimming pools in Woking on a Thursday evening. It is a member of the Royal Life Saving Society, which is the UK’s leading drowning-prevention charity.

There are three levels for the society’s Survive & Save awards, bronze, silver and gold, and each has four strands to it – medallion (pool), sport (pool), still water (lake) and beach.

“Every week, our club members have a theory session where we teach them how to do CPR, some first aid, including how to treat cuts, asthma and heart attacks,” said Jacky. “We also teach about water safety and drowning prevention, which includes learning about hazards and safety at water sites such as canals, quarries and rivers.

“Then we have an hour in the pool where the members learn some personal survival skills including fitness swimming. But, mostly, they learn how to safely help someone who has got into difficulty in the water.”

During the summer, sessions are held at a lake and at least two days are spent at a beach. This is where members learn about the differences between still and open water.

“During the lockdowns, when we were not able to use the pool, we were able to continue with our theory sessions via Zoom,” added Jacky. “We were delighted that most of the members joined us nearly every week.

“This meant that they had all passed the theory content of their awards by the summer, so when we were able to go the lake and the beach, they were well prepared.”

In April members will be at Virginia Water Lake and by the River Thames at Cowey Sale and Walton Bridge, taking part in public emergency services events to raise awareness of the dangers around water.

For more information about the club, visit its Facebook page – RLSS Woking Life Saving Club – or email [email protected].