In the news

9th April 2010 at 01:00

Robin Howell

Who is he?

Robin Howell, 40, teaches geography, media studies and film studies at Humphry Davy School in Penzance, Cornwall. With the summer approaching, he will watch over the beaches of Cornwall in his 18th year as a lifeguard for the Royal National Lifeboat Institution.

Is it like Baywatch?

"There is a big social side, yes. We all get together, go to the cinema, play computer games ... It's a great environment to work in. Teaching and lifeguarding is brilliant - the two jobs complement each other because peak season is the six weeks in the summer when schools are off."

You're only a lifeguard for six weeks?

"We start at Easter, which is called 'off season'. Then we go into May, which is 'full time', and then 'peak season' is the summer holidays. At the start of the season, when it's quieter, I can do my school work up in the hut when lifeguarding. At peak season I can't do that."

Is there much rescuing?

"Yes, we have to requalify every Easter, even senior lifeguards like me who have been doing it for 18 years. The RNLI is hot on its certification as there are many serious rescues each season."

Are you the school's hero?

"Well, the beach is 30 miles away from school, so the kids don't see me lifeguarding, but they see me on TV. Seaside Rescue, the BBC reality series, is filmed on Perranporth beach. They've filmed it for five or six years and they're now showing repeats on Sky."

How's that for your street cred?

"It's funny; I was walking down the corridor the other day and one kid said: 'Oh sir, I saw you last night patching someone up.' I think some of them like to tune in and watch it, especially the girls and the staff - they find it more interesting because they know me. One colleague went on a course in Bristol the other week. He checked into the hotel, went to his room and stuck the TV on and there I was. He said: 'I just can't escape from you.'"

Does it interfere with the day job?

"No, they're completely different. Sometimes I'll have a sleepless night after a serious incident, but I love both jobs. I always liked the idea of educating young people, and my personal experiences can be used to teach kids. Teaching is mental, intense and you are constantly thinking. Lifeguarding is physical - you're in the water, out on a paddleboard or training. They're one extreme after another."

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