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RNLI Senior Lifeguard Rose McTavish

Meet Rose McTavish, RNLI Senior Lifeguard at Coldingham Bay. We caught up with her to find out why she chose saving lives at sea as her vocation in life.

How long have you been an RNLI lifeguard?

I've been an RNLI lifeguard for 4 years.

What inspired you to become one?

I've always loved being at the beach – I'd hate to be stuck in an office! My sister and another girl in my village were also lifeguards, so it felt like a good thing to get into. I also really enjoy the community aspect of the job. My course is related to the outdoors as well so it's perfect for what I want to get into.

What are your highlights so far?

Mostly getting in the water. Coldingham Bay is in a marine reserve, so there's beautiful animals and creatures. I like meeting people. Because I work on the same beach all the time, I see familiar faces every day, which is lovely, and there's a really nice community aspect.

There's a lot of variation at our beach. We have big wave days and some days when it's flat calm. Having that alternation is really nice, especially when the beach profile doesn't actually change, but the happenings of what's going on does.

What skills do you need to become an RNLI lifeguard?

I would say you have to be a good communicator and be able to work well within a team. I work an 8-hour day with one other lifeguard – it's a lot nicer when you get on!

What do you do as a senior lifeguard?

There's a lot more responsibility. You're always aware of what's going on. To make a good senior, you need to take a bit more control over situations. You need to do things to help your team and put their needs before your own.

Tell us how you rescued a stand-up paddleboarder in tricky surf conditions.

We had a really busy summer. There were a couple of days in July where we had 80 assists across the 2 days. We rescued lots of bodyboarders who were drifting in strong rip currents. There was one incident where I rescued a paddleboarder who was out in strong offshore winds and big swell, attempting to paddle to the next bay. I paddled out and asked them to come back and try again on a calmer day, informing the coastguard of their plans.

What advice would you give to someone thinking about becoming an RNLI lifeguard?

I would say just take a leap of faith and do it! Working at the beach is the best thing I could have chosen after leaving school. You can apply from 16 and get really good experience while working with the RNLI. You get to work with so many different organisations and people. And you gain so much life experience. It's a great thing to have in life, no matter what you go on to do. I think I'll be lifeguarding for a long while!

Thinking about becoming a lifeguard? 

Find out more about what’s involved and how to qualify.

Meet our lifeguards

RNLI Lifeguard Supervisor Dom Fajkiel smiling, with the sea in the background.
RNLI Lifeguard Supervisor Dom Fajkiel
'I had no qualifications. I spoke very basic English. And now I’ve been a lifeguard for 9 years.'
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RNLI Senior Seasonal Lifeguard Arun Gray
RNLI Senior Seasonal Lifeguard Arun Gray
'You have to be ready for anything as a lifeguard.'
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A head and shoulders shot of RNLI Lifeguard Harry Barea. Harry is smiling and wearing a blue RNLI woolly hat, a yellow RNLI polo short, and sunscreen across his nose and cheeks. The beach in the background is deliberately blurred.
RNLI Lifeguard Harry Barea
‘I strongly recommend volunteering with the RNLI or joining a surf lifesaving club to gain the experience and confidence required to keep people safe’
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RNLI Lifeguard Elise Irish smiling, with blue skies and the sea in the background.
RNLI Lifeguard Elise Irish
'I’d eventually like to be a paramedic, so I see lifeguarding as a great, progressive step towards that.'
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