NSVL is a lifeguard and lifesaving training club with 250 members aged 8 and upwards based in Whitley Bay, north-east England.
The lifeguard service in North Tyneside is provided by the RNLI, however NSVL trains many of the lifeguards employed by the RNLI.
NSVL can provide pool and beach lifeguards, first aiders and other qualified personnel for events. We can also provide lifesaving and first aid training for community groups in the area. Please contact us for more information.
If you want to find out more about what NSVL has achieved in the last few years, you can download copies of our Annual Report at the bottom of this page.
In the summer of 1998 group of experienced lifesavers and lifeguards in the Whitley Bay area who had considerable teaching and training experience decided to get together with the intention of forming a lifeguard club.
An open meeting was organised to discuss setting up a club, and around 30 people in the area attended. The ideas behind the club were discussed and everyone at the meeting was invited to think of a name for the new club. Various proposals were suggested, but finally North Sea Volunteer Lifeguards was decided upon and 26 people joined on that very night.
Affiliating to the Royal Life Saving Society UK, North Sea Volunteer Lifeguards was born
- To promote the development of lifeguard and lifesaving training and expertise
- To promote technical education in lifesaving and water safety to the local community
- To promote self rescue, rescue and resuscitation skills within the community
Starting off small, the club was originally intended just as a club run by lifeguards for lifeguards. An approach was made to North Tyneside Council to find a suitable location for a beach base. A number of suggestions were made, and after looking at all the options a suitable unit was found on the Central Lower Promenade at the south end of the beach. The unit was an old children's theatre company and had been used as a dump for all sorts of rubbish from all the other units. But under the rubble was a reasonably sized unit with 3 separate rooms. Eventually, after much hard work, the unit was transformed with one room taken as a training room, another as an office/first aid room, and the largest room split into male/female changing rooms with showers, equipment store and kitchen.
Despite the temperatures of the North Sea, the Beach Base is in use at weekends all year round - not least on Boxing Day when a number of our members brave the icy waters for a dip!
In return for use of the unit, NSVL runs courses to qualify beach lifeguards employed by the Council during the summer at Whitley Bay, Cullercoats, Tynemouth Longsands and King Edward's Bay beaches.
So although NSVL doesn't have a designated beach patrol area, beach lifeguarding is the club's main focus, in terms of our position as a training organisation. Beach lifeguard courses are run regularly to provide lifeguards for North Tyneside's four beaches during the summer, and also attract prospective lifeguards from all corners of the country.
NSVL also assisted the Council in the organising of a Water Safety Roadshow which toured the schools of North Tyneside through the winter months and teaches children about water safety through the Water Safety Code.
Since the club was established, the club has benefited from the purchase of £30,000 worth of equipment, either through our own fundraising efforts or grants from charitable trusts.
Our equipment includes sufficient torpedo buoys, throw bags, VHF radios, rescue boards and rescue skis to be able to run courses with up to 12 people.
Rookies have access to junior versions of most of the rescue equipment listed above, meaning that they can learn rescue skills from an early age, and hopefully be the highly skilled lifeguards of the future.
In our well equipped training rooms we now have laptop and projector, overhead projector, TV/DVD and white boards. For Life Support training we have 30 Adult, 21 Baby and 16 Child resuscitaion manikins allowing us to run more than one course simultaneously and ensuring trainees get as much hands on practice as possible.
NSVL originally had an hour of pool time at Whitley Bay Leisure Pool on a Sunday evening, to allow for beach lifeguard pool training and also senior lifesaving awards.
As the club gained a firm footing, the age limit to join the club was gradually lowered to allow members of the Council's Rookie programme (running immediately prior to the NSVL session) to join in with the club's activities once they had become too old for Rookies.
But soon NSVL was to take on the Rookies as well.
NSVL went online in 2000 and www.nsvl.org.uk quickly became a primary source of information on the web about lifesaving and lifeguarding.
The power of the web site in the club's development is not to be underestimated as about 80% of people attending courses find out about them through the web site.
The web site receives over 150 unique visitors per day from all over the world and fields numerous e-mail queries related to lifesaving and lifeguarding.
In the first 4-5 years the club developed rapidly in terms of number of members and also the qualifications held by members. Indeed in 2002 the club became the largest beach lifeguard training club in the UK, responsible for qualifying 10% of all RLSS beach lifeguards in the UK.
Not only are the majority of senior members pool and beach lifeguards, but we are lucky enough to have a number of national trainer assessors in all the RLSS disciplines (Lifesaving, Life Support, Extended Life Support, Pool Lifeguarding, Beach Lifeguarding and Rescue Boat) who can run courses to train people how to teach lifeguarding and lifesaving.
These courses attract people from all over the country and from within the club who go on to teach new lifeguards and lifesavers. The availability of teacher training courses in house encourages members to further their training and pass skills on to others.
For the ordinary lifeguard and lifesaver this ensures a high-quality of formal and informal training is available all year round.
With the increased number of teachers within our membership, in September 2003 NSVL took over the Council's Rookie Programme. This gave us an extra hour pool time, meaning that all the junior lifesaving could take place first leaving the pool with much more space for lifeguard and senior lifesaving training in the second session.
After a short bedding in period, the Rookies quickly became one of the most successful parts of the clubs, with membership swelling to the 80 junior members. All teachers are fully-qualified and provide their services voluntarily.
The Rookies now means we can offer the full range of lifesaving awards from Rookies at 8-years-old, to pool and beach lifeguard at 16 years (to 60 and beyond!)
In accordance with Child Protection guidelines all teachers and trainers are in possession of Enhanced CRB disclosures. Between our members we have over 80 teaching qualifications, making us the most qualified club in the country and our number of teachers and trainers is increasing every year.
With the increased activities of the club, 2004 saw NSVL incorporated as a Charitable Company registered in England (company number 5162996).
This allowed us to progress with our aim of becoming a registered charity (number 1114331), something which we eventually achieved in May 2006, giving us greater access to funding.
NSVL's role in serving the community was recognised in January 2010, when committee members were presented with the prestigious Whitley Bay Town Cup at a full meeting of North Tyneside Council.
In 2011 we intend to build on the success of Rookies and build up all age groups to ensure continuity and progression through the club. We also plan to broaden our links with other organisations in the area.
There has never been a more exciting time to be involved with NSVL, so why not join in yourself?
No matter how young or old you are -
No matter what your level of swimming ability -
No matter what your previous experience -
There are lifesaving courses available for you.
For youngsters aged between 8 years and 12 years:
The Rookie Lifeguard Programme
These are all programmes that will teach you how to save someone's life in an emergency.
For Teenagers and Adults:
Life Support Awards
Lifesaving 1, 2, 3
Award of Merit
National Rescue Award for Swimming Teacher and Coaches
Rescue Test for Supervisors of Swimmers with Disabilities
National Pool Lifeguard Qualification
National Beach Lifeguard Qualification
Heartstart Basic Life Support (Community-based)
Save a Baby's Life (Community-based)
First Responder defibrillation (Community-based)
These are all programmes that will provide comprehensive lifesaving training for both dry land and water-based emergencies.
Q Where can I find a course?
A If you live in the Whitley Bay area or are able to travel, NSVL can offer all these courses and more. Check the lifesaving courses page for brief details of all awards offered, or check the various pages in our training section for comprehensive information on the main awards and qualifications.
Q How long does training take for awards?
A Course length depends on your ability and the level of the award. Community based courses such as Heartstart and Save a Baby's Life are approximately 2 hours. Lifesaving 1 will take around 2 - 3 hours, and a Bronze Medallion around 20 hours. Lifeguard qualifications will take around 40 hours in total.
Generally the awards are valid for two years and are progressive in nature as skills become more natural.
Q Do I need to be a strong swimmer to achieve any of these awards?
A Several awards are land-based and so you don't even need to go near water to achieve the Life Support awards.
The 'wet' awards will require you to do some swimming, and they start off with distances of around 50 metres - 25 metres there and 25 metres back again!