The Rhondda (Cold Knap) Lifeguard Club was formed by Sgt Bill Dummer from the outdoor swimming pools in the mining community of the Rhondda in 1962. The club was initially called the Gelli-Galed Lifeguard Club, after the pool located in the park at Ystrad and affiliated to the Royal Life Saving society on the 11th August of that year.
The Early Years
The early years of existence, saw the club without a regular base, so during Sunday’s in the summer months, they would visit many of the popular South Wales beaches to provide a voluntary beach patrol and rescue service. It was after one such visit to Cold Knap, Barry during 1966, that the then Barry District Council asked the Club if they would make Cold Knap their base. The Club started regular patrols at Cold Knap in 1967 and although being run from the Rhondda our Headquarters have been located at Cold Knap Point since then.
The Club changed its names to the Rhondda Lifeguard Club in 1969, reflecting the broad support in membership throughout the Rhondda and not just from the Ystrad/Ferndale area, however with the improvements in VHF communication, that in itself would lead to problems, some years later.
Since 1967 the Club are very proud to say, that during the summer months from the end of May to the end of August, they have been found on weekends, regardless of the great British weather, performing voluntary lifeguard duties for the community and visitors of Barry. In total thirty-one people have been saved during the last fifteen years, so is there a better endorsement of the invaluable service our volunteers provide?
The Last Decade
Like most voluntary organisations, the Club, which has always been one of the smaller Welsh Lifeguard Clubs anyway, have had its ups and downs regarding memberships. Travelling from the Rhondda on weekends was an obstacle in itself, but nevertheless the Club has survived for almost fifty years and is now in the process of rebuilding its membership strength. As well as the Rhondda, we currently have members from as far a field as Cardiff, Bridgend and of course Barry itself.
Finally. Over the many years of existence of the Rhondda Lifeguard Club, members in a ‘tongue-in-cheek way’, have been fed up of explaining, when asked, “Where in the Rhondda is the sea?” As mentioned earlier, with the improvements in VHF radio communication allowing direct contact from the IRBs’ to Swansea Coastguard, the word ‘Rhondda’ when used in a rescue situation, was unfortunately, on too many occasions causing confusion at the MRCC (Maritime Rescue Co-ordinate Centre), Swansea. Cold Knap was therefore added into out title and is the only name used when performing voluntary patrol duties and in reporting and dealing with incidents under the direction Swansea Coastguard.