Hi Bernie. Great to have you here to chat today and congratulations on recently being awarded Volunteer of the Year at the National Awards Ceremony 2023. Can you tell us about how you first got involved with Water Safety and what inspired you to start volunteering with Water Safety Ireland?

After an incident in a pool at swimming lessons as a child, swimming teachers Jack Mason and Seamus Martin who happened to be Water Safety instructors changed the swimming program to involve water safety at the end of each term. When I became old enough to join Water Safety Ireland I worked my way through the exam receiving my first certs in 1978. As my relationship developed within Water Safety – Dublin I was asked to take part in Inter Pool competitions which would have started my volunteering journey.

As Chairperson of the Dublin Water Safety Area committee, how would this role differ from your experience as a volunteer and what is your favorite part of the role?

As a volunteer I watched and listened and learned from my peers. My role as chairperson differs in the level of responsibility and time commitment required. As chair I try to be involved in all activities held within Dublin supporting the volunteers and passing on the same guidance, care and information that was given to me when younger. My favorite part of my role as chairperson and tutor instructor is watching the children who have grown up through lessons standing alongside myself and other instructors in Dublin doing their thing; passing on information to a younger generation.

What would be your advice to someone looking to volunteer with Water Safety Ireland?

First step is approaching their deck manager or instructors stating an interest to progress. As instructors we often become mentors to those that have attended our classes and with pride most of us enjoy passing on and encouraging those around us.

What are you looking forward to this year?

This year as usual I am looking forward to our summer weeks where bedlam, fun, laughter and rewards are given and received amongst us all. My big event this year is becoming a Nanna for the first time and volunteering unconditionally to that.


What would be your favorite moment during your time volunteering at Water Safety Ireland?

This would be hard to pin.

Many memories come to mind; rushing through sand dunes at open water competitions; standing in the rain at emergency service day parades; finding flowers on my doorstep from members within the county (just because); but during last years emergency services day, a cake was produced from our young volunteers for my birthday with hugs and kisses of thanks and a spontaneous flash mob with lots of laughter and fun.

Personally I thrive on the moments where unconditional thanks and support is given to events and to me myself as Bernie when needed.