Manager entered the winning photo in secret

A north east Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) lifeguard has been named category winner in the charity’s Photographer of the Year competition.

Gavin Hughes, a senior RNLI lifeguard in Tyne and Wear, won the People category in the competition for his dramatic photo showing lifeguard Matt Ellam diving into the sea from the back of a rescue water craft (RWC) as another lifeguard looks on.

Gavin, from Sunderland, said he was surprised to win as he was unaware the photograph had been entered into the competition by his manager.

He added: ‘The photo was taken during a training session in Scarborough when we were learning to use rescue water craft and practicing our life saving techniques. It was a bit of a lucky shot as I’m not a great photographer but I just managed to capture the moment when the lifeguard was about to enter the water. Hopefully, the picture helps demonstrate something of what RNLI lifeguards have to do as part of their lifesaving role.’

The RNLI Photographer of the Year competition encourages volunteer crew, shorehelpers and lifeguards to submit photos which demonstrate the charity’s lifesaving work. Pictures are entered in four categories – rescues, people, fleet and landscapes – and the overall winner is picked from the winners of each category.

Gavin, a sport and exercise science student at the University of Sunderland who helps keep Sunderland and South Shields beaches safe in the summer, will receive Jessops vouchers worth £150 and a certificate to mark his achievement.

Eleanor Driscoll, RNLI Film and Image Manager and head judge of the competition, said: ‘The standard was very high this year but Gavin’s picture was one of those which really stood out. It is a great action shot which captures some of the drama involved in lifeguarding and demonsrates the challenges RNLI lifeguards face when they are saving lives.’

The overall winner of this year’s competition is Howard Evans, a volunteer RNLI fundraiser from Weston-super-Mare, Somerset.