Dad follows in daughters footsteps to become an RNLI lifeguard
Like daughters, like father, twins Issey and Maisie Barnes from Cornwall became RNLI lifeguards 2017 when they were 16 years old. Last year, inspired by the girl’s work with the lifesaving charity, Dad Gareth Barnes decided to join his daughter in his dream job on the beach.
Gareth, 44, had always liked the idea of becoming a lifeguard, ‘I grew up in Newquay and started surfing at a young age, my older brother was a lifeguard throughout the 90’s and I have always fancied giving it a go. We got the girls involved with the surf lifesaving club as nippers* and I had my qualification for many years as a club member, competitor and coach.’
However, it wasn’t until Issey and Maisie were older and joined the RNLI lifeguards covering the Padstow area that Gareth became inspired by his daughters’,
‘Over the years the girls have developed into amazing lifeguards with loads of experience. They would come home from a busy day at the beach with all these stories of helping people. So when I had a career change last year I thought it was the perfect chance to become a lifeguard and learn from them, whilst hopefully bringing my own skills to the team.’
The RNLI lifeguard teams are made up of people with varying skills and experience. Thinking back to when they first joined the service, Issey, who is now 19 and studying Medicine at the University of Exeter, said,
‘Everyone was super friendly and supportive, if you were dealing with a big incident your team was always there to help you. Then before you know it, you’ve done multiple seasons and you are the experienced lifeguard helping out the newcomers. That’s what happened when Dad joined, we had to teach him.’
Maisie, who is studying Biochemistry at the University of Bristol added: ‘All lifeguards bring their own skills to the team and my Dad is an amazing water-man. He’s such a good surfer and great on the rescue board, so when it comes to board skills he is the one teaching us. But with lifeguarding it’s also learning the little parts of the job, like how to use the radios or the PA system*.’
Issey said, ‘I remember a funny story on the first day I worked with Dad, we were putting the red and yellow flags up and I looked over and said, ‘Dad where’s your flag gone?’ The flag had fallen off the flag pole and he was just putting a pole up.’
When asked what it’s like working with his daughters on the beach Gareth said,
‘I love it! I’m only in my second season so the girls are teaching me a lot from the experience they’ve gained through different rescues and incidents. We all respect each other and our individual skill set, and I think we know each other so well that it helps us to make a great team whenever we work together.’
While the family have never all lifeguarded on the same beach at the same time, Issey and Maisey are regularly on the same shift and been involved with rescues together, and Issey and her Dad were both part of the team who helped a surfer to safety on Porthcothan beach in a dramatic rescue a few weeks ago (read more here)
Notes to editors
· Please find attached the following images
o 1. Maisie on the left and Issey on the right, RNLI induction 2020
o 2. Issey (on left), Maisie (in the middle) and Gareth (on the right), lifeguard fitness test
o 3. From left to right: Maisie, Deborah (mum), Issey, Gareth and friend Joel
o 4. Issey on the left, Maisie in the middle and Gareth on the right, IRB training from a young age
· *Nippers - are young surf lifesavers, usually aged between 5 and 14 years old.
· *PA system – public address system used by the lifeguards to communicate messages to beach-users through speakerphones.
· Follow the link to see which beaches are currently lifeguarded https://rnli.org/find-my-nearest/beaches-with-lifeguards-on-patrol
· To support the RNLI’s lifesavers, go to: www.rnli.org/donate
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Key facts about the RNLI
The RNLI charity saves lives at sea. Its volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service around the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland coasts. The RNLI operates 238 lifeboat stations in the UK and Ireland and more than 240 lifeguard units on beaches around the UK and Channel Islands. The RNLI is independent of Coastguard and government and depends on voluntary donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service. Since the RNLI was founded in 1824, its lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved over 142,700 lives.
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