Wellbeing & Fitness

UK’s first wheelchair user to qualify a swimming teacher and lifeguard

The Royal Life Saving Society UK (RLSS UK) and charitable enterprise GLL welcome into their ranks Helen Bull, the UK’s first wheelchair user to qualify as both a swimming teacher and lifeguard.

Currently employed as a swimming teacher by GLL at its prestigious London Aquatics Centre, at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, Helen retrained through GLL College after a break of nearly 20 years. She opted to further her training by successfully passing RLSS UK’s National Pool Lifeguard Qualification (NPLQ) with reasonable adjustments for her needs. 

Helen said: “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.

GLL has been fantastic at making sure everything works, not just for me but for the swimmers, other team members and customers too. The team all know what to expect and what I need.

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. I’ve already set my sights on becoming an RLSS UK Trainer Assessor, so I can share my passion for the water by training others.

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

Ella Gosden, Business Development Manager for GLL College, added: “GLL prides itself on being open and inclusive employers and we’re particularly keen that passionate and dedicated employees like Helen don’t feel her 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 a 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 necessary and important.

“Lifeguards and swimming teachers are just two of many roles that can kickstart a career in the leisure industry,” says Jo Talbot, RLSS UK’s Director of Commercial Operations.

“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 to work, yet still ensuring our courses maintain and develop the prerequisite rigour and robustness required.

I’m delighted Helen has successfully qualified as both a swimming teacher and lifeguard. She is a fabulous asset to the leisure industry and I wish her the best of luck in her role with GLL.”

By The Royal Life Saving Society UK

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