Lifeguard training rescues Connor from the doldrums

A WANNABE lifeguard from Radcliffe had his own life saved by charity Rathbone.

Connor Johnstone, aged 16, has learning difficulties and as part of a large class in school, would get frustrated and sometimes throw tables around.

A scheme run by charity Rathbone helped Connor alter the course of his life by landing work experience at Total Fitness in Walkden where he is to begin lifeguard training.

“Before my work experience I had no confidence,” said Connor, of Stand Lane.

“Now I think I’m ahead of some of my friends because I have actual experience.”

Connor now spends so much time at the gym staff have asked him if he wants a bed there and have upped his hours. “The staff here are all dead nice,” he said.

“I have dyslexia and they have even helped me to spell things better.”

Connor, who is gaining customer service skills on the government-funded Go Achieve and Progress programme, has travel and expenses paid and is entitled to free gym membership and complimentary haircuts at the gym’s salon.

“If it wasn’t for Rathbone I’d be sat at home doing nothing,” he said.

“They’ve taken such an interest in me and given me the practical work I’ve always wanted.”

Connor now attends New Park High in Eccles but previously showed such challenging behaviour at school he was not allowed to go out on a work experience placement.

He now believes lifeguarding could be the career for him. Peter Gibson, spokesperson for Rathbone, said a work placement was exactly what Connor needed.

“It has given him a sense of purpose and direction and an opportunity to prove himself which he has truly taken,” he said.

“Connor is polite, calm and easy to talk to — exactly what any employer would want in someone who deals with customers.

“This work placement has been the making of him.”

Rathbone Bury run a range of courses for unemployed 16- to 24-year-olds leading to careers in areas such as construction, childcare and motor vehicle repair.

Trainees can earn up to £800 for completing the Foundation Learning programme.

To learn more: visit www.rathboneuk.org, email bury@rathboneuk.org or phone 0161 763 5740.

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