MORE than 40 years of dedicated voluntary work with the Royal Life Saving Society have earned Ken White an MBE.
Mr White, a district judge, worked tirelessly for the national association, rising to become its chairman in 1998.
The group is the leading provider of training and education in lifesaving, lifeguarding and water safety in the UK.
Mr White held the prestigious post for the maximum possible six years, and still remains honorary president of Portsmouth and Southsea Voluntary Lifeguards.
The 63-year-old, from Copse Lane, Hayling Island, said: ‘I was delighted when I found out, just over the moon.
‘The whole thing was entirely unexpected. I had no idea that I was even being considered for an award.
‘It’s an honour and I can only hope the things I did while chairman of the RLSS are looked back on as good decisions.’
Mr White admitted that when he first became a lifeguard in Portsmouth, it was only because his future wife – and current chairman of Portsmouth’s lifeguards – Anne White was already hard at work volunteering.
‘Really it’s her fault I got involved,’ he said. ‘I will always remember those often cold and wet days spent in my 20s patrolling Southsea beach.
‘Looking after bathers, first aid, lost children and all the other services performed by our voluntary lifeguards here in Portsmouth.
‘I’m very proud of those young men and women who continue in this important and public spirited task for the benefit of all who use Southsea beach.’
During time as chairman of the RLSS the work of the society expanded, offering new qualifications for lifeguards and increasing their involvement in the sport side of lifesaving, and Mr White said he is glad he left the society in a state of financial security.
He has continued his involvement with the RLSS since stepping down, working with national committees and the organisation’s European body, where he is legal advisor.
He also represents the Commonwealth body of the society at the International Lifesaving Federation.