Life-saving: the family business

Life-saving: the family business

Maisie on the left and Issey on the right.

23rd June 2021

By Warren Wilkins

A dad from Newquay has followed in his daughters’ footsteps to become an RNLI lifeguard Gareth Barnes decided to follow the example of his twin daughters Issey and Maisie.

The 44-year-old had always liked the idea of becoming a lifeguard but it wasn’t until his daughters joined the RNLI aged 16 in 2017 that he became inspired to take on the life-saving role.

Gareth said: “I grew up in Newquay and started surfing at a young age. “My older brother was a lifeguard throughout the 90s and I have always fancied giving it a go. “We got the girls involved with the surf lifesaving club as nippers and I had my qualification for many years as a club member, competitor and coach.

“Over the years the girls have developed into amazing lifeguards with loads of experience. “They would come home from a busy day at the beach with all these stories of helping people. “So when I had a career change last year I thought it was the perfect chance to become a lifeguard and learn from them, whilst hopefully bringing my own skills to the team.”

Issey and her Dad were both part of the team who helped a surfer to safety on Porthcothan beach in a dramatic rescue a few weeks ago A group of five surfers had been swept around the north end of the beach towards Treyarnon. Three of the surfers managed to get to safety and another made it back to the beach but the female surfer was being swept by big waves towards the rocks.

Gareth paddled out to help his colleague Keith Renders in the rescue whilst Issey, who was off-duty at the time, helped the team back on the beach by watching other members of the public in the water and assisting with communication.

Maisie and Issey have been teaching their dad the skills needed to become a lifeguard. Gareth said: “I love working with my daughters. I’m only in my second season so the girls are teaching me a lot from the experience they’ve gained through different rescues and incidents.

We all respect each other and our individual skill set, and I think we know each other so well that it helps us to make a great team whenever we work together.” Issey, who is now 19 and studying medicine at the University of Exeter, said:

“When I started out as a lifeguard everyone was super friendly and supportive. If you were dealing with a big incident your team was always there to help you. “Then before you know it, you’ve done multiple seasons and you are the experienced lifeguard helping out the newcomers.

That’s what happened when dad joined. We had to teach him.” Maisie, who is studying biochemistry at the University of Bristol added: “All lifeguards bring their own skills to the team and my dad is an amazing water-man. “He’s such a good surfer and great on the rescue board, so when it comes to board skills he is the one teaching us.”

To see which beaches are currently lifeguarded, visit

subscribe icon.png