History of NSVL

NSVL is a surf life saving club with 150 members located at the North East’s premier surf beach, Tynemouth Longsands and the nearby Tynemouth Pool.

Affiliated to RLSS UK and SLSGB, we train young people from the age of 7 in lifesaving skills at the pool from September to April and at the beach from May to September, culminating in vocational pool and beach lifeguard qualifications from age 16.

The beginnings…

In the summer of 1998 group of experienced RLSS UK lifesavers, lifeguards and trainers in the Whitley Bay area decided to form a lifeguard club.

On 13 August 1998, around 30 people in the area attended and open meeting where the ideas behind the club were discussed. The name North Sea Volunteer Lifeguards was chosen and 26 people joined on that very night.

Aims and Objectives

  • 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

Finding a home

NSVL Club House at Whitley Bay

The club was originally intended just as a club run by lifeguards for lifeguards. Following discussions with North Tyneside Council, a suitable unit was found on the Central Lower Promenade at the south end of Whitley Bay beach to be turned into a club house. 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. Eventually, after much hard work, the unit was transformed with a training room, office/first aid room, male/female changing rooms with showers, equipment store and kitchen. Underneath was a boathouse to store various surf equipment.

In return for use of the unit, NSVL ran courses to qualify beach lifeguards employed by the Council during the summer at Whitley Bay, Cullercoats, Tynemouth Longsands and King Edward’s Bay beaches and provided ongoing training for the lifeguards during the summer season.

Despite the temperatures of the North Sea, the clubhouse was in use at weekends all year round with people travelling from across the North East to train in the sea. The profile of the club was helped by an early online presence from the year 2000 generating interest and attracting people to courses from across the UK and indeed the world!

Making waves at the pool

NSVL originally had an hour of pool time at Whitley Bay Leisure Pool (since refurbished as Waves) 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 Leisure Pool’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.

Expanding into Rookies

Rookies at Whitley Bay Leisure Pool

With the increased number of teachers within our membership, in September 2003 NSVL took over the Leisure Pool’s Rookie Lifeguard 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.

NSVL the charity

With the increased activities of the club, 2004 saw NSVL incorporated as a Charitable Company registered in England (company number 5162996) and then progressed onto becoming a registered charity (number 1114331) in May 2006.

Moving to Tynemouth

In April 2007 with Whitley Bay Leisure Pool closing for refurbishment, NSVL moved to Tynemouth Pool for its weekly pool sessions. We lost the waves, but gained a more traditional pool with overall more appropriate water depths which the newly refurbished Waves in Whitley Bay would no longer have.

In July 2015 with the long overdue regeneration of Whitley Bay due to start, our clubhouse on the Central Lower Promenade was being demolished along with the rest of the units. A new home was needed.

The ever changing configuration of Whitley Bay beach and its notorious shoredump had always made for interesting training conditions, so the opportunity was taken to move to move two beaches south to Tynemouth Longsands.

Unfortunately, the clubhouse facilities available there were extremely limited so no longer did we have dedicated training rooms and showers, but we were at the heart of the surf scene on the the North East’s premier surf beach.

Affiliating to SLSGB

NSVL complemented its affiliation to RLSS UK by affiliating with Surf Life Saving GB in 2024 to give members the opportunity to access a new range of awards and pathways.

The future

We have many exciting short, medium and long term plans for the club’s future – the biggest of those being developing plans to build a new club house.