TALENTED teenager Charley Gourley is making her mark in the world of sport both in the water and on dry land – and is now the proud holder of a European title.
Charley, 15, won the gold medal in the rope throwing section of the European Junior Lifesaving Championships held in Copenhagen, Denmark with a time of 11.92 seconds.
She was one of two young members of the Blyth Lifeguard and Swimming Club (BLSC) selected for the Great Britain team which took part in the four-day event.
She is the first member of the flourishing and successful lifesaving club to become a European champion.
Charley, a student at the Bede Academy in Blyth, was joined in the Copenhagen squad by James Purvis, 16, who clinched top 10 finishes in four of the six disciplines he competed in.
Earlier this year Charley won five individual gold medals and set two new British records at the Royal National Lifesaving Society’s speed championships held at Pond’s Forge in Sheffield.
She is also a talented athlete and part of the rowing team at Bede Academy, recently being selected for the Northern squad to take part in a national rowing competition in Nottingham.
Yesterday BLSC public relations officer, Aileen Robson, said: “For Charley to win a European gold at 15, and with such a fast time, is an absolutely fantastic achievement.
“It is a real feather in the cap for our club, for Charley and her family, and both she and James did us proud.
“We are getting more and more of our young people selected to go and represent Great Britain, and we currently have eight or 10 out in South Africa for the Commonwealth Lifesaving Championships.”
To win her European title Charley had to coil a rope, throw it out to a ‘casualty’ in the water and pull her to safety. A third member of BLSC, Andrew Kane, 24, was on the GB team which recently finished sixth in the European Senior Lifesaving Championships in Alicante, Spain.
The 350-member club was founded in the 1930s to provide volunteer safety patrols on Blyth beach, and was later expanded to include a competitive swimming section and swimming instruction for local children and adults.
Earlier this year it proved itself the best of its kind in the UK by scooping a total of 53 medals at the national speed championships in Sheffield.
The young Blyth swimmers set an incredible 17 new British records at the two-day event, as well as picking up 26 gold medals, 16 silver and 11 bronze – their biggest-ever haul at the annual competition.
Swimming, lifeguard and surfing clubs from all over the UK took part in the championships, which bring together the best and fastest of Britain’s volunteer lifesavers.
It involves young swimmer competing in a number of disciplines and distances, including obstacle races, relays, line throws and carrying mannequins filled with water to simulate adult bodies.