Lifeguard action awards

Staff at the Aqua Vale team awards

Staff at Aylesbury’s Aqua Vale Swimming and Fitness Centre have been awarded Certificates of Meritorious Action. They were given by the Royal Life Saving Society UK’s Thames Valley Branch President Iwan Williams, for their dramatic rescue of a swimmer in cardiac arrest.

It was an ordinary Monday morning in August for lifeguard Ellie Picillo, with the regular customers enjoying their swim in the pool, until Ellie noticed a swimmer in distress, clutching at his chest. Wasting no time, she headed straight over to help. 

Having spotted a dangerous situation developing, fellow swimmer and off-duty lifeguard George Constable joined Ellie in helping the man to a quieter section of the pool, away from other swimmers. They quickly identified that he was was suffering a cardiac arrest and brought him to the poolside, where they used an AED [Automated External Defibrillator] and administered CPR [cardiopulmonary resuscitation], helped by team-mate Phillippa Francis and off-duty firefighter, Chris Sawkins, until the emergency services arrived.


A few weeks later, the team were pleased to find out that the man had recovered and were touched when he and his wife visited the centre to thank them in person, with gifts of chocolates.


Frederick Tomlins, contract operations manager for the centre, said: ‘It’s a testament to how well our team work together and support each other, that they can affect a successful rescue like this. I know the family are grateful for the swift and effective response and I know I speak for all of the staff, when I say how proud we are of them. The feedback has been, that if it wasn’t for their quick thinking and rigorous training, the gentleman might not have recovered. 

‘We’re really pleased to be working alongside the RLSS UK to recognise the efforts of Ellie, George and Phillipa in this way.’


For more information on IQL UK training, awards and qualifications: 

 Visit the website at

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Call – 0300 323 0096

*Pictured at the Aqua Vale team awards are, from left to right, Iwan Williams, George Constable, Jon Killip, Ellie Picillo, Chris Sawkins and Phillippa Frances.

January 7, 2019