Transformational Training Tool for Lifeguards earns North Wales Manufacturer a King’s Award for Enterprise: Innovation

North Wales manikin manufacturer Ruth Lee Limited has been recognised for its excellence in Innovation, with its Pool Rescue Training Manikin winning the most prestigious business award in the country, The King’s Award for Enterprise: Innovation.

Ruth Lee Ltd is dedicated to improving rescue and safety training around the world by creating manikins which accurately represent a casualty in specific training scenarios including water rescue, emergency evacuation, technical rescue and patient handling. Back in 2016, Ruth Lee Ltd received a request from a Canadian lifeguard, who was frustrated with the traditional training method, which she felt was ‘disjointed’ and did not accurately replicate a real emergency rescue, Ruth Lee set about creating a manikin which lifeguards could use to complete a full simulated rescue. The result was the Pool Rescue manikin, which lifeguards can recover from the bottom of the pool, tow to the side and perform a safe extrication from the water.

It was important to Ruth Lee that the manikin would be a useful tool which enhanced lifeguard training, so early in the development process, they consulted with UK Lifeguard experts at the Royal Lifesaving Society (RLSS UK) who were able to test and provide feedback on several prototypes before the final Pool Rescue Manikin was launched at the RLSS Annual Conference in 2018.

Since then, Pool Rescue Manikins are being used by an estimated 8,000-10,000 lifeguards in 25 countries around the globe to improve their lifesaving skills.

Ruth Lee Ltd.’s Managing Director, Paul McDonnell said;

“We are absolutely thrilled and proud that we have been successful in winning the King’s Award for Enterprise; indicating that the Pool Rescue manikin is considered to be an outstanding innovation. Drowning prevention and the role that effective water rescue has to play in this is a core foundation of our business.

We know that the Pool Rescue manikin is helping to create a new generation of skilled lifeguards, who are confident in their ability to retrieve a casualty from the bottom of a pool and recover them to the poolside quickly and efficiently. As well as helping to improve the skills of lifeguards, we also know that in some countries the manikin is used as an important tool in community engagement for delivering important water safety programmes.

Innovation is a crucial part of our business, and we are 100% committed to challenging and improving training practises – we have several exciting products in the pipeline and Ruth Lee is helping customers to create the best training possible.

We are delighted to be awarded one of the highest business accolades in the country and will continue to bring innovation to rescue training communities.”

The King’s Awards for Enterprise, previously known as The Queen’s Awards for Enterprise, were renamed last year to reflect His Majesty The King’s desire to continue the legacy of HM Queen Elizabeth II’s by recognising outstanding UK businesses. The Award programme, now in its 58th year, is the most prestigious business award in the country, with successful businesses able to use the esteemed King’s Awards Emblem for the next five years.

Ruth Lee Ltd is one of 252 organisations nationally to be recognised with a prestigious King’s Award for Enterprise in 2024. This is the second time Ruth Lee has won this prestigious award, previously securing the Queen’s Award for Enterprise: International Trade in 2020.

Recently, the first UK National Drowning Report from the Water Safety All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG), was authored by the Royal Lifesaving Society UK (RLSS UK) and supported by the National Water Safety Forum (NWSF), and globally, The World Health Assembly has this year adopted its first ever resolution on drowning prevention, requesting governments and their partners, in collaboration with the World Health Organization (WHO) to accelerate action on drowning prevention through 2029. Our rescue training manikins have an important role to play in the ongoing efforts to reduce drowning statistics around the world. Figures from the WHO reveal that there are an estimated 236,000 annual drowning deaths worldwide.


For further information, please contact Ruth Lee Ltd. Global Marketing Manager Sarah Hampson by email or 07930 21 87 21


Editor’s Notes and background

Jo Talbot, RLSS UK’s Commercial Director said,

“The Ruth Lee manikin is a revolutionary innovation in how lifeguard training is conducted. It provides a more realistic experience for trainees with the ability to practice a variety of techniques, without needing to switch between different equipment or live volunteers, this ultimately leads to greater confidence, when carrying out a real rescue.”


Martin Suzan, Director of Swim Safety, the company trusted to carry out training with the Lifeguards at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, said.

“Before training for these games some of the lifeguards had never trained with the Ruth Lee Pool Rescue Manikin. Some of the smaller team members found it a little daunting to begin with when they felt the weight of the manikin poolside. But after a few goes they realised they did have the ability to rescue the full-bodied manikin from the bottom of the pool and felt much more confident in their abilities.“


Ruth Lee Ltd, was established in 1994, in Merseyside following an ad-hoc enquiry from the local fire brigade. The founders, Ron and Ruth Lee were running a small business repairing Silver Cross prams when a friend of the family, who was a fireman, brought in a tattered home-made dummy and asked Ruth if she could repair it. Ruth declared she could make him something better and the first Ruth Lee manikin was born!

Very much starting life as a cottage (or more specifically a barn) industry, the family relocated to the town of Corwen and ran the business initially from the family home. Over the last 30 years the company has established itself as one of the world’s leading manufacturers of training manikins.

Exports represent 70% of the total business, and the company sells to more than 50 countries, through a network of more than 40 distributors.  Export continues to grow strongly and Ruth Lee can proudly state that they have sold manikins to every continent on the planet.

Ruth Lee currently supplies to all the UK’s Fire & Rescue Services, plus countless other customers including the Police, Military, RNLI, and the NHS to name a few.

Some biggest industry names use Ruth Lee manikins including Airbus, BMW, Exon Mobil, Glaxo Smith Kline, Ford, Star Cruises, Tata Steel and the United Nations.

Ruth Lee Ltd also produces a range of operational products including specialist and bespoke bags for the emergency services.

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