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February 4 2013.

About a year ago Seaford Life Guard Ashleigh Gent was suggested as a possible candidate for the challenging annual Rotary Youth Leader Award. One year on, the Rotary Club of Seaford received a short e-mail from Ashleigh, explaining that her RYLA experience changed her future.

Ashleigh, 18, was born in Brighton and lived in Newhaven until she was 16, attending Tideway School. Her parents then decided to move to a bungalow in Peacehaven. "They are too young for a retirement home," she snorts, before explaining that she spent the next year studying at BHASVIC in Brighton and being a Seaford Lifeguard.

It is clear that she is passionate about physical activities, especially water-based sports, and she is currently working as a swimming teacher in Brighton.

Achleigh's aim was to train as a paramedic, but then Peter Gwilliam of Seaford Lifeguards recommended that she should be considered as a RYLA candidate.

The Rotary Club of Seaford was very impressed by Ashleigh, and so at the beginning of April 2012 she attended a one week course to successfully gain her Youth Leader Award at the Surrey Outdoor Learning Development Centre. She found herself in a group of 12, with eleven strangers. Shyness was not an option, as communication was essential. By the end of the week Ashleigh found herself much more open-minded and understood the concept of teamwork in practice, especially when her team jointly made a presentation to all the other groups.

With her greatly improved confidence Ashleigh decided that paramedic was not the role for her, and in September this year she will start an Outdoor Adventurous Activities degree course at Plumpton.