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Lifeguards needed for Sheppey 'Baywatch'

It's Sheppey's answer to the TV show Baywatch and bosses are recruiting now.

Every year the RNLI provides lifeguards for the Island's three award-winning beaches but it is struggling to find home-grown talent.

RNLI lifeguards Tom King, left, and Alex Wilmshurst on Sheerness beach on the Isle of Sheppey. Picture: John Nurden
RNLI lifeguards Tom King, left, and Alex Wilmshurst on Sheerness beach on the Isle of Sheppey. Picture: John Nurden

Lucy MacGowan, who is putting the team together, said: "It is probably one of Britain's best summer jobs but I am finding it difficult to get anyone from Sheppey, Sittingbourne or Faversham to apply."

In the past, Islanders filled many of the roles but recently the RNLI has had to ship in support from Thanet.

Lucy, 27, said: "This is something we are desperate to change. I have sent details to schools and clubs but have only had a limited response.

"There are vast opportunities for young people who become RNLI Lifeguards. Many go on to become paramedics or join the police. It can be a great stepping stone to the emergency services.

"Many teenagers don't believe they have what it takes but we will help them at every step. It is a perfect way to help pay your way through university. That's what I did."

RNLI lifeguards patrol Leysdown beach. Picture: John Nurden
RNLI lifeguards patrol Leysdown beach. Picture: John Nurden

Volunteers must be 16 or over and able to swim. But full life-saving training will be given.

Applications opened on Monday. The next nationally recognised training course is at Sheerness over the Easter holidays from Saturday, April 4, to Thursday, April 9.

Lucy said: "We are looking for motivated, determined individuals with a willingness to learn. We will work closely with them to build their confidence and skills."

Lifeguards are needed to patrol the beaches at Sheerness, Minster Leas and Leysdown on a rota seven days a week from 10am to 6pm during the summer. They are paid £8.24 an hour.

Lucy added: "Our lifeguards' are trained as first-responders but their primary role is to educate people about the dangers of the sea and when it is safe to swim. We are also there to supervise. It is only at the last resort we are there to help rescue people."

Sheerness seafront Ian Arnell is no stranger to a sea dip himself. Picture: John Westhrop
Sheerness seafront Ian Arnell is no stranger to a sea dip himself. Picture: John Westhrop

The push comes as Louise Milne of Kent County Council Sport and Ian Arnell, Swale council’s seafront manager, have teamed up to promote sea swimming off the Island.

They have asked interested parties to the Healthy Living Centre off Royal Road, Sheerness, on Friday at 10am.

Louise told a meeting of the Sheppey Community Development Forum: “We want to see if there is support to develop a project to encourage more people to experience the joys of sea swimming, especially as Sheppey has flags for its water quality.”

The RNLI, Coastguards, swimming clubs, Sea Cadets, sailing clubs and Guardians of the Deep have been invited.

Ian said: “There are projects like this around the country to encourage safe swimming in open water. I also hope it will encourage more people to apply to become beach lifeguards in the long term. We are struggling to recruit Islanders with local knowledge.”

To apply to become a lifeguard email the RNLI's support centre at ramsgatesc@rnli.org.uk. For more information, call Lucy on 07825 195142.

Read more: All the latest news from the Isle of Sheppey


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