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What does it really take to be a beach lifeguard?

Monday, 5th June 2017

While the nation’s cinemas are busy showing the new blockbuster Baywatch movie, Blackpool’s real life beach patrol is gearing up for potentially its busiest summer ever.

With millions heading to the UK’s favourite beach resort this summer to enjoy the golden sands, safety is at the forefront on the seafront.

The resort’s Beach Patrol team have recently recruited additional staff for the summer season and have been busy running dedicated training sessions for them.

See the Blackpool Beach Patrol team be put through their paces here:

This year it is even more crucial that they’re at the top of their game with Blackpool expecting one of the biggest summers in recent history on the back of its crowd-pleasing Blackpool Has It All campaign. Now in its fourth year, the campaign has been to be a proven winner for attracting families to the resort over previous years.

While Blackpool’s Beach Patrol has been in operation since the 1930s – when the uniform consisted of heavy tunics and white wellies - it has never been tougher to qualify.

Beach Patrol is not only physically demanding, every single applicant must be qualified to a national standard (NVBLQ) and pass a rigorous assessment day and interview. 

But the hard work doesn’t end after the new team has been recruited – the team is then put through its paces via training exercises and drills both on the beach and in the water.

Blackpool’s beach lifeguards are trained to an incredibly high standard together with an in house, on-going competency-based training programme throughout the season, which encompasses incident response exercises, fitness drills and first aid training.

Amongst the recent additions to the Beach Patrol team are 24-year-old PE teacher, Joe Matthews, from Lytham and 21-year-old LIPA music student, Jess Cunnah, from Cleveleys – both are returning for their fourth season safeguarding visitors to the iconic beach resort.

Last year the Beach Patrol assisted members of the public, with issues ranging from cut fingers to incoming tides.

And as well as assisting with the Lost Children’s Department at major events including Blackpool Air Show and the famous Blackpool Illuminations, the team has also been utilised to provide beach and water safety cover for Tim Burton’s big screen movie – Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children, starring Samuel L Jackson, which was filmed in the resort.

Beach Patrol Manager, Richard Williams, said: “The work of the real Beach Patrol is much tougher than the big screen suggests.

“Our Beach Patrol members are dedicated professionals who have passed one of the toughest assessment processes around. We insist on the recruitment process being tough because we have to have confidence that when they’re up against it, our Beach Patrol team will remain professional, calm and committed to helping visitors on our beaches.

“As a result, our Beach Patrol team is among the very best in the world at what it does.”

Alan Cavill, Blackpool Council Director responsible for Tourism, said: “For the second year running, Blackpool has been awarded the Blue Flag Beach Award at South Beach due to its water quality, cleanliness and public safety, placing the seaside resort’s beach amongst some of the top in the world.

“It’s a fantastic boost for the resort’s tourism. With those increasing visitor numbers here in Blackpool, the Beach Patrol team is preparing for one of its busiest years yet.

“We can assure all visitors that Blackpool’s beaches will be among the safest in the world this summer – our Beach Patrol will make sure of that.

“But there is much more to Blackpool than just its beaches, of course. Our Blackpool Has It All Campaign is in its fourth year in 2017, and has been at the foundation of the resurgence of the resort in recent times.”

This year, the campaign will ramp things up even further with new celebrity wax figure launches at Madame Tussauds Blackpool, SEA LIFE Blackpool’s Sea Stars exhibition and iconic West End shows Sister Act and Dirty Dancing being showcased at the Winter Garden’s Opera House.

Blackpool Pleasure Beach is currently constructing the UK’s first double launch rollercoaster which is set to launch in Spring 2018 and represents an investment of £16.25m. The park will be hosting eight late night riding events, as well as Walk The Big One, an escorted climb up Blackpool’s most famous ride. 2017 also sees the return of Nickelodeon’s SLIMEFEST, as well the chance to meet the Paw Patrol characters, also Hot Ice, the spectacular ice extravaganza, returns for its 81st year with a new production, Dreams.

With four years of impact - including a prime time television advertising campaign across Scotland, Yorkshire and the North East. Last year’s lead activity featured Princess and Junior Andre, who created a kids’ guide to the resort - the Blackpool Has It All campaign has driven a hugely positive shift in the perceptions of Blackpool as an inclusive family resort.

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