Surf Life, Saves Lives

PUBLISHED: 14:47 13 August 2012 | UPDATED: 21:43 20 February 2013

Surf Life, Saves Lives

Surf Life, Saves Lives

As crowds take to the seaside, Surf Life Saving GB volunteers patrol Devon's beaches, as Rosalie Birch explains.

Surfs Up

As crowds take to the seaside, Surf Life Saving GB volunteers patrol Devons beaches, as Rosalie Birch explains.

When the paid lifeguard patrols wrap up for the day, or the season, it is volunteers from Surf Life Saving GB clubs based at clubhouses on the beach who rush to the rescue.

Surf Life Saving GB is a charity of more than 5,000 volunteers who have been providing beach lifeguard training and patrolling the coast for more than 55 years. SLSGB clubs are nationwide, with 11 in Devon from Bantham to Woolacombe, training members aged from five years upwards in beach education, lifesaving, rescue and fitness skills, helping create fitter and safer communities by the sea.

Whilst on patrol, volunteers hear some funny comments from beach-goers. Wheres the water gone? Is it going to come back? When do the waves start? and What time are the dolphins coming tomorrow? Someone even pointed to a rock, asking if it was organic......he meant volcanic!

Club members meet on summer evenings to practise lifesaving techniques and train to improve fitness levels. Joining a surf life saving club is a great way to ensure children have an opportunity to learn about how to be safe both in and near the water - Nipper sessions cater for 7-13 year olds, and there are also youth sections for teenagers.

SLSGB has recently launched a Junior Lifeguard programme fun half day sessions for children aged 7-14 to learn essential beach and water safety skills. Run at selected beaches in the school summer break, theyre a great taste of surf life saving and will increase childrens water confidence.

As part of their training with clubs, members can achieve SLSGB awards, qualifications and competencies in a range of disciplines. SLSGB is the awarding body for the highest standard of beach lifeguard qualification in the country, and also offers more than 50 water safety awards and qualifications for adults and children. With education opportunities including beach and surf lifeguard, surf swimming, board paddling and surf skiing, along with coasteering, inland water safety, and IRB operations, SLSGB is a leader in the field of water safety.While SLSGB receives no Government funding and relies entirely on the generosity of the public, it aims to provide opportunities for 20,000 people a year to become fitter and safer by the sea.

SLSGB is also the national governing body for surf life saving sport, a display of the skills developed and used in life saving rescues. Competition is multi-disciplined and multi-event with close ties to swimming, athletics, kayaking, rowing, surfing and power boating. SLSGB runs national events for over 3,500 competitors in both the pool and the ocean, giving competitive opportunities for adults and children aged seven and upwards. See how fast, strong and skilled the elite athletes are at Polzeath or Portreath in Cornwall this summer. There will be a real carnival atmosphere on the beach, with competition on the beach as well as in the surf and taster opportunities for children too. 

Devons Surf Life Saving GB clubs

Stay Safe on the Beach

More Information


Bideford Bay


Dawlish Warren



Saunton Sands



University of Plymouth


Find your nearest club:

Watch the Championships:

Get children involved:

To donate:

Swim between the red and yellow flags

If the plain red flag is flying, do not enter the water - its not safe

Dont swim after eating, or after drinking alcohol

If you get into trouble in the water, relax and raise one arm and shout to alert for help

If you see someone in difficulty, tell the lifeguard or call 999 and ask for the coastguard

With education in surf swimming, board paddling and surf skiing, SLSGB is a leader in the field of water safety

1 Lining up for the start of a board race

2 Ready for board practice

3 An SLSGB volunteer teaches a local woman how to rescucitate

4 Family advice

5 On a rescue run

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