Lifeguard Daniel heads for Australia
Stephen PullingerWith his sun-bleached hair and athletic physique Daniel Buck could have just arrived off the set of an Aussie soap. But when beach-goers Down Under approach him this winter they are likely to be astonished to discover their young lifeguard has an English accent.Stephen Pullinger
With his sun-bleached hair and athletic physique Daniel Buck could have just arrived off the set of an Aussie soap.
But when beach-goers Down Under approach him this winter they are likely to be astonished to discover their young lifeguard has an English accent.
For the second year running, the boy from Primrose Way, Bradwell, near Great Yarmouth, is set to become an unlikely export to what many would consider the sacred home of lifeguarding.
Daniel, 21, who spends his summers patrolling the beach at Gorleston as an RNLI lifeguard, jets off from Heathrow tomorrow on a travelling adventure which will include working as a lifeguard at Venus Bay, in Victoria, three hours south of Melbourne.
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He is not the only Norfolk export as his friend Chris Jeffrey, 29, an RNLI lifeguard on neighbouring Yarmouth beach, has already left England to spend the winter patrolling beaches around Christchurch, New Zealand.
Daniel, a former pupil of Lynn Grove High School, Gorleston, has just had time to recover from a hectic season on his home town beach, but admits the hazards posed by spiny weever fish - a particular nuisance during a warm Norfolk summer- are nothing compared to what could lurk under the waves where he is heading.
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'There is said to be a great white shark breeding ground 20km off the coast of Venus Bay and bull sharks are another potential menace. Every day, a shark plane patrols along the coast and if it circles three times, that is the signal to get everyone out of the water. There is a notice on the beach with details of all the shark attacks.'
Daniel, who will be travelling with his girlfriend Sophie Edwards, 19, and staying at the local lifesaving club, recalls several busy days on Gorleston beach this summer, including one in September when they had to go the rescue of six kite surfers.
However, from his first winter on the exchange programme, teaming up RNLI lifeguards with their Lifesaving Victoria counterparts, he knows the pace can be considerably faster there.
He said: 'Venus Bay is classed as the fourth most dangerous beach in Australia because of the swell and dangerous currents. The year before I was working there they had 191 rescues in two days.
'Last year, we only had one rescue because we carried out a lot of preventative action, constantly whistling and keeping people between the blue flags.'
You might think that entertaining a pommy lifeguard would be an affront to Australian egos, but Daniel said the reaction of both colleagues and beachgoers had been very friendly last winter.
He said: 'They ask loads of questions and seem fascinated about England. However, some people are puzzled about why we need lifeguards here because they think we don't have any beaches and the sea just goes up to the cliffs.'
Daniel admitted he had come in for some good-natured ribbing from his colleagues, many of whom started as volunteer lifeguards at a young age - especially when he failed dismally to light their barbecue.
As he said farewell to Gorleston beach on a blustery day yesterday, the wind whipping sand into the faces of a few hardy dog walkers, he was already looking forward to 40C sunshine at Venus Bay with sea temperatures of at least 20C, the equivalent of the hottest spell in Norfolk.