Lewis has been a designer with Red Paddle Co for 5 Years. Over the last two years, his focus has moved over to Red Rescue and he is now using Red Paddle Co’s Industry leading Inflatable Technologies to design the best Inflatable Rescue Boards on the Planet. This is the story about how he came to be Red Rescue’s Lead Board designer:
“ I was born on the South Coast of Devon, into a family who loves travel, the ocean and the outdoors. As a kid we were often at the beach collecting driftwood and plastics that had been washed up, we would up-cycle our findings into some sort of gift and sell it at youth markets. I think this is where my passions for creating and being respectful of our planet came from.
There wasn’t a lot else to do as a kid on the coast other than surf, have beach fires and irritate golfers as we rode our bikes along their course. The weekends for me weren’t playing rugby or football: I would either be sanding dinged boards at the surf shop or down the beach. I soon got involved with our local Surf Lifesaving Club at Bantham Beach, particularly with the IRB racing and surfing the prone boards. It turned out that as a team, we were pretty good at it too: when it came to competing at IRB National and European championships, we brought home many medals over the years.
I soon got myself a full-time job as a beach lifeguard and at 18, I was promoted to a senior lifeguard. I loved this job, getting paid to keep fit, get in the surf regularly and work on the tan. Throw in the adrenaline rush when s**t hits the fan and I was hooked. The area we covered can get some nasty rips and heavy surf, we were frequently rescuing those that got into difficulty and dealing with their injuries. For the most part it was preventative work, but you could always guarantee someone will think they know better.
After a winter stint on the Australian East Coast, I came back to the UK to attend Bournemouth University to study Industrial Design. For those that may not have heard of that Degree, one of my lecturer’s once summed it up best: “It is like Product design, but we bring art to the everyday life”. For my third year I took a year in industry. I applied to work at a few firms and creative workshops but there was no way I could hack it in the city. That was when I was offered the job of my dreams at Red Paddle Co.
I spent my placement year at Red being guided by the Head of Design, Phil Hawthorne. He showed me how the industry worked and how products manifested. Back then we were a small team, with the company founders; John Hibbard and Roger Tushingham often chucking in their ideas into our creative studio. At the weekends I still got my sun and sea fix by continuing lifeguarding, creating a near perfect beach office balance. We had some challenging rescues, a few times these rescues where made more difficult because of damaged equipment. It was common for our fiberglass rescue boards to be dinged in operation and needed fixing. It was also common that due to operational need, those repairs wouldn’t always get done as quickly as they should. I remember having to sprint down the beach at low tide to grab some kids out of the rip after our shift, the heavy waterlogged board did not help the situation at all.
After my placement year, I finished off my degree with a 1st class honours. Some projects included creating a lifesaving aid for children in developing nations and exploring the growing issues of corporate green washing. I returned to Red on a full-time basis, I have since been working on many great projects, most recently bringing much of my own background, experience and Red’s technology into a new product range with Red Rescue. There is nothing better than creating outstanding, trustworthy equipment that can be packed down, transported and stored with ease and peace of mind.
I am extremely passionate and driven to deliver user-focused, robust rescue equipment, whilst extending the product lifespan to benefit our planet. The Prone Rescue Board is a brilliant example of a collaborative project bringing lifeguards, designers and businesses together. At Red Rescue we are at the start of something exciting, be sure to keep an eye on the water for more innovative Rescue Equipment coming soon.
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