Bondi Rescue lifeguard Maxi helps little lifesavers learn water survival skills in day of activities at South Shields beach

Lifesaving skills have been passed on to the next generation in a day which saw emergency teams join a television star to share their expertise.

By Fiona Thompson
Saturday, 04 May, 2019, 17:53

South Shields Volunteer Lifeguard Club (SSVLC) and South Shields Surf School were joined by fellow rescuers for the session hosted today at its base on Sandhaven Beach in South Shields.

Members of South Shields Volunteer Life Brigade (SSVLB) and their Tynemouth counterpart, members Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service (TWFRS) and The Royal Lifesaving Society UK (RLSSUK) helped pool their knowledge as a series of tasks were set for youngsters to join in.

Joined by Trent 'Maxi' Maxwell, who appears in Australian television show Bondi Rescue, the children watched him carry out a rescue exercise in the sea, with lessons given in CPR, rope rescue, a fire safety kit demonstration and took a hazard tour of the seafront, alongside a number of parents.

A total of 66 children aged from six upwards joined in the event, which will be followed this evening with a question and answer session and dinner for people this evening at the Sea Hotel.

Maxi and his business manager Leigh Mason have become ambassadors for SSVLC after they first teamed up to help educate people about water safety last summer, with Maxi signing copies of his children's books after the close of the event.

Gillian Wilkinson is one of its senior group leaders, alongside her mum Penney and sister Pamela Sharp.

The day down at Sandhaven Beach was packed with activities.

She said: "It's been fantastic and we have gained a few members, which is exactly what we wanted and it's also helped raise awareness and the profile of the club.

"If we can stop at least one drowning, that's what we've been working to do.

"The children have loved it and Maxi has been really fantastic and we are very happy to have him on board as our ambassador as well."

Maxi, who is on tour as part of his Live Learn Survive company and is also a firefighter with New South Wales Fire and Rescue, will be taking part in a water safety event which will take place on Newcastle's Quayside tomorrow from 11am and 3pm.

Trent 'Maxi' Maxwell passed on skills to youngsters during his visit to South Shields.

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TWFRS and County Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue service will carry out demonstration rescues in the River Tyne, using live casualties including Maxi and TWFRS area manager for community safety Lynsey McVay.

Other volunteer teams also plan to turn out in support.

Maxi said: "They seem pretty happy to see someone from the other side of the world come along and give them the time of day and teach them water safety tips and generally have a chat.

Bondi Rescue Australian Lifeguard Trent Maxi Maxwell working with South Shields Volunteer Lifeguard Club members Ben Pringle, James Forster and Kieran Tuck.

"Quite a few of them have watched Bondi Rescue over the course of its 14 seasons.

"Today has been very important because not only have they learned lifesaving skills, but this could be something which inspires them to get a job maybe as a lifeguard, a firefighter or a paramedic or volunteer.

"It just sets them up with some good safety training and it also gets them to think a little outside the box."

SSVLB's captain Dave Ratcliffe added: "It's been great for the kids and they have been very interested and asking some good questions.

"They've enjoyed themselves during the exercises and we showed them some throw rope lines.

"The more they know about sea safety, the better."

Stephen Lyon, community drowning prevention co-ordinator for Scotland, Northumberland and Cumbria, for the RLSSUK added: "This has offered the opportunity to learn about prevention and promote water safety and learn how to look after themselves, as well as others to give them help and it will help them as they grow up."