STUDENTS at RGS are being given the chance to gain the vital skills that could help them save a life one day.

Nine sixth formers and five Year 11 students are working towards National Pool Lifeguard Qualification (NPLQ), the most widely recognised lifeguard qualification in the UK & Ireland and a requirement for most lifeguarding jobs.

Trainee lifeguard Neive Zenner encourages others to consider the course: “My advice would be, don’t be scared of throwing yourself into everything. You may feel embarrassed to shout across a pool, however the confidence you gain is worth it.”

Course tutor Myles Strudwick, who has been involved in lifeguarding and lifesaving for 20 years, both nationally and internationally, agrees: “I am passionate about the development of skills in this area for anyone at any age, and nobody is too young or too old to start taking part. Even if it’s not something you use every day, the skills covered might just be enough to save a life one day. And it’s a strange – but thankful – feeling when that happens.”

Henry Grice-Holt, from Huby, outside Easingwold, plans to work at Camp America during his gap year, where he hopes the qualification will help him get a lifeguard role.

The 17-year-old, who aims to study medicine after RGS, explained how his mother, who is a qualified lifeguard, inspired him to apply: “I’d recommend it to other students as it can show to universities that you do other things outside of the classroom as well as being able to save lives,” he says.

He said the most important thing he had learnt was how to perform CPR with the use of a defibrillator: “I have also been taught how to safely get someone who is unconscious out of the water and get them in the recovery position.”

Neive, from Dallowgill, outside Ripon, said she was taking the course to help her get an interesting part-time job while at university. The accomplished swimmer added: “I also wanted to build on previous skills and maintain a hobby of mine.”

She has picked up lots of different skills, she says: “Practical lessons allow you to have hands-on experience and basic first aid training, while theory provides you with the information you need to apply to lessons and even life situations.”

The 17-year-old adds: “The most important skill I have learnt is communication, I found myself speaking out and answering questions in theory lessons, this then transferred to our pool sessions where we worked in teams relying on verbal skills.”

Henry and Neive use their Wednesday afternoon enrichment period – when sixth formers can take a break from studies to enjoy a range of other activities – to gain their qualification, which involves lessons for two hours a week, with additional home study. Year 11 pupils have been taking their lifeguarding classes after school.

As well as being qualified in pool lifeguarding and supervision, with integrated defibrillation and anaphylaxis training, there is the option for the students to gain a First Aid at Work qualification and students, who began the course in November, will gain their qualifications at the beginning of April.

Mr Strudwick says working with students at Ripon Grammar is an absolute pleasure: “They want to be on the course and taking part, and they’re keen to get stuck in and get things right.

“There’s a good sense of teamwork and there’s no snide remarks, belittling, or one-upmanship, which so often mars some courses with teenagers. They are a credit to the school.”

He adds: “There are lots of benefits to students, in both life skills and employability. The skills covered are applicable in many areas of life – customer care, teamwork, first aid, knowledge of legislation and what kind of induction training should be expected for any role.”