Debbie makes a big splash on shortlist

Debbie Kelso has taught babies to swim for 13 years
Debbie Kelso has taught babies to swim for 13 years
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Debbie Kelso, a baby swimming teacher for Capital-based swimming company Water Babies, has been nominated as Most Outstanding Activity Leader for the under-fives.

The awards are run by What’s On 4 Little Ones – an online directory of local classes, groups and activities for children and babies – and cover both Northern Ireland and Scotland.

Debbie left a successful career as a midwife to begin her amazing teaching journey and has been teaching babies and toddlers to swim in Edinburgh for the past 13 years.

She has taught well over 2000 babies and toddlers since first taking to the shallow end in 2004.

She said: “I absolutely love my job. We teach life-saving skills in our lessons but there is always a focus on fun. Watching the smiles on the faces of the babies and parents as they share the bonding experience is priceless.

“The first time we introduce the babies to water, the first time they float independently, the first proper dive… every moment is special.

“I’ve even helped a few parents who were non-swimmers overcome their fears and venture under water to watch their baby swim towards them.”

Debbie, of Edinburgh, added: “I am thrilled to be nominated for this award. It means so much because it is the mums and dads I work with day to day who have taken the time to vote for me.”

The What’s On 4 Little Ones awards invite parents to nominate activities and individuals close to their hearts.

Nominees are then voted for by the public, with regional categories voted for by local people, who can choose to recognise those they believe are providing an invaluable service to the local community.

Since it was founded 2002, Water Babies has grown into the world’s largest baby swim school, today teaching more than 45,000 babies every week through a network of family businesses across the UK, with international operations in Ireland, New Zealand, Canada and The Netherlands.

Charis Clemson, of Water Babies Scotland East and West, said: “We are really proud to have Debbie as part of our team, her Water Babies passion and enthusiasm seeps so naturally out of her pores, and our clients cannot get enough of her. Her experience and knowledge teaching our babies and toddlers to swim are so valuable to us.”

Winners will be announced at the awards ceremony in October in London.

Since 2006 Water Babies has raised over £2 million for Tommy’s, the baby charity, their second largest corporate supporter.

It teaches babies from birth, with babies typically taking their first lesson at around six weeks.