£10k boost for lifesaving club

Dave Manley with members of Sidmouth surf life saving club for the start of the new season. Ref shs

Dave Manley with members of Sidmouth surf life saving club for the start of the new season. Ref shs 6437-19-15TI. Picture: Terry Ife - Credit: Archant

A £10,000 boost has seen ‘East Devon’s fastest growing club’ increase its membership from 50 to 70 youngsters – and more are waiting to join.

The Sidmouth Surf Lifesaving Club returned in force on Saturday, making fitness fun and teaching youngsters how to read the sea and stay safe.

Dave Manley was hard at work over the winter, securing funding from the Sidmouth Lions Club, the town council, the Sid Vale Association’s Keith Owen Fund and the Gibbons Family Trust for new equipment.

“The popularity is ever expanding,” he said. “There’s been a real appetite from the kids. It’s been the fastest growing club in East Devon for the last three years. The demand is there, for sure.”

The club operates out of The Arches, a ‘fantastic space’ and ‘right where we want to be’, but one that will ultimately limit its membership. Part of the funding paid for a trailer so some of the equipment can be stored elsewhere.

The winter also saw six dads train as lifeguards, bolstering the club’s safety credentials.

They will supervise as the youngsters learn beach awareness, first aid and how to read the sea, as well as improving their swimming and board-paddling ability.

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These skills are put to the test in competitions. The younger age group placed 14th nationally last year, but Dave is aiming to get them into the top 10.

Wednesday training sessions will start in June to get them competition-ready.

The club remains evenly split between boys and girls and all abilities can attend and compete.

Dave is planning two head-to-head contests against the club’s Teignmouth counterparts – the first there in June and the second on Sidmouth beach in July.

As well as competitions, the members can also work towards qualifications.

“They could do professional awards – some will be looking to do that,” said Dave. “They could be the coaches of the future.”