Newquay RNLI lifeguard international rescue!
The RNLI attracts lifeguards from across the world due to its high-class training and lifesaving equipment. The Newquay RNLI lifeguard team are no exception and on many beaches in the area this year, lifeguards from a variety of nationalities were regularly on patrol together using their extensive
skills and global experience to keep beachgoers safe.
Throughout the summer, the Newquay RNLI lifeguard team consisted of lifeguards from the UK, France, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Greece, Brazil and Poland. With the last few weeks of the season approaching, many international lifeguards are choosing to continue their lifesaving work here in the UK and are already planning their return next year.
Regularly on patrol together at Mawgan Porth were RNLI lifeguards Agustin Lanzavecchia from Argentina, Theresa Morokutti from Austria, Vittoria Farmer from Australia and Alexandros Gkosime from Greece. They are reunited during October half-term when lifeguards are on patrol daily from Saturday 22 – Sunday 30 October.
Agustin, 36, has been working for the RNLI since 2013 on beaches in the north of the UK, returning to Argentina for their summer season to work as a lifeguard on his home beach. Following the Covid pandemic, 2022 was his first lifeguard season in Newquay and his family relocated to Cornwall earlier this year to support him as he develops his lifeguarding career. He was regularly on patrol at Mawgan Porth and Fistral throughout the season.
Apart from the obvious difference in temperature, Agustin says there are huge differences in lifeguarding in the two countries:
‘There is a massive difference in lifeguarding in the UK compared to Argentina, mainly the kit we have and the training. In Argentina we don’t have much chance of having kit, we work with simple umbrellas on the beach and precarious huts and rescue tubes and torpedoes. We need to be really thankful for all the fundraisers and people who make donations because without them, the quality of the RNLI service wouldn’t be possible.’
Agustin has completed several RNLI training courses over the years and has been able to share his knowledge with his lifeguard colleagues in his home town. In 2015 he purchased two rescue boards the RNLI was disposing of, and arranged for them to be shipped to Argentina and then driven six hours to his home town. He explained:
‘I was so happy on the first day in the 2016 season I put the first two rescue boards on the beach in my council and I show all my colleagues how to do rescues, how important they are for a lifeguard service and how a rescue board can be used for all lifeguards in any condition. I was an ambassador for the RNLI in my area firstly with the rescue board but secondly, a few years later when my council bought a rescue watercraft (RWC). I had five years experience of using the equipment so I translated the lifeguard operating procedure from my area into Spanish and gave a copy to my council, advised them on extra kit such as radios, lifejackets, helmets, and helped them put a RWC in the lifeguard service. I was the first operator over there, I was happy as I could pass on all the knowledge and skills I was provided by the RNLI to other people.’
Agustin says he loves coming to work at the beach every day and helping people to stay safe.
Alexandros, 47, is from Athens and came to the south west to work as a RNLI lifeguard in 2015, after several years as a lifeguard in Greece. He said: ‘I wanted a change, to improve my skills, get some better training, access to more lifesaving resources and I wanted to make a difference, I was aware of the first class training that the RNLI provides and the facilities and equipment, so that was my decision to come straight to Cornwall.
‘Greece’s beaches are busier and the coastline is similar but we don’t get the challenging conditions with the tidal range and currents and we don’t have the vast amount of available resources, like fully equipped first aid kits, communications and inshore rescue boats. The RNLI is an internationally well-known and respected service, the training we get is first class and we work closely with the other emergency services – all together to make a difference for the local community.’
A passion for the sea and surfing brought 30-year-old Theresa Morokutti to Newquay from Austria in 2012 and when she learned of the opportunity to work as a RNLI lifeguard, she jumped at the chance:
‘I grew up in Austria and spent a lot of time in the sea in Italy as I’m half Italian so we spent a lot of time there. I’ve always loved the sea and so decided to move to Newquay and spent three months of the summer here working, I really liked it and came back for a second summer and that was 10 years ago and I’m still here.
‘I started to work in a surf school, I made lots of friends with the lifeguards and I was offered a job as a lifeguard seven years ago and I tried it and fell in love with it. Straight away I felt like this is the perfect job for me, I love working in a team, being on the beach and in the sea.’
Theresa works as a lifeguard from March to October in Newquay and then works as a teacher part-time during the winter months.
She adds: ‘The best part of lifeguarding is that you can really help people to enjoy the water in a safe way. We spend so much time learning about different conditions, getting to know the beach you’re working at, meeting lots of people, and we get to know our team so well. It’s the best job in the world.’
24-year-old Vittoria Farmer is completing her second RNLI lifeguard season in Newquay, and prior to that was a lifeguard back at home in Australia for five years. Although she misses the heat, she feels very content and settled with the RNLI in Cornwall:
I’m really happy to be here, the culture, people, the lifestyle in Cornwall is amazing. I’m really enjoying it and it feels like home.’
Vittoria came to Newquay for a surf competition and saw the RNLI lifeguards in action on the beaches for the first time, which planted a seed in her mind to revisit. She said:
‘At that point in my life I was seriously into the competitive side of surfing so it was a couple of years later that I ended up back here.
‘I’ve discovered a lot more people over here are keen to get into the water no matter what the weather is like, whereas back in Australia the people are more selective about the days they go to the beach - here you’re guaranteed people will be at the beach any day. And also there are more people who don’t always go to the beach so we’re educating people more which is really cool.
‘We have a solid team of lifeguards and everyone is super keen and love their job. All my closest friends are lifeguards.’
Lewis Timson, Lead Lifeguard Supervisor for the Newquay area, adds:
‘We are delighted to attract lifeguards from across the globe in our Newquay team to share their skills and experience and continue their learning across our beaches and with the charity.
With October half term underway, the lifeguards are keeping people safe on very busy beaches and in extremely challenging conditions. As is usual for October we are seeing an increase in swell meaning bigger, more consistent waves which will increase the frequency and power of rip currents, which are one of the biggest dangers in the sea.
‘As ever, whenever you’re heading to the beach please choose a RNLI lifeguarded beach and swim between the red and yellow flags. The lifeguards are always happy to talk to you so if you have any questions please do approach them.
‘You’ll find four of our international lifeguards at Mawgan Porth beach from Saturday 22 – Sunday 30 October.’
Notes to editors
· Attached is an image of the Mawgan Porth lifeguard team together, credit RNLI.
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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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