Surf lifesaving in the UK is often credited as being founded by Allan Kennedy. An Australian, Allan started out as a volunteer lifesaver in his homeland, before instructing Australian and American troops to help them recuperate after they had seen action in the Second World War. A proud member of the Australian Surf Lifesaving Association, Allan trained many in lifeguarding the coast.

In 1951, Allan was sent to England for his job. Missing home and his lifesaving, he travelled down to Bude in Cornwall. Finding a little piece of home on the Cornish coast, he began teaching surf lifesaving to locals concerned with keeping people safe by the water. Using equipment shipped from Australia, Allan started the first UK surf lifesaving club, with 22 volunteers qualifying and earning the Australian Bronze Medallion.

A tragic incident in 1954 highlighted the importance of surf lifesaving. A visitor to St Agnes got into difficulties in rough water. Two locals tried to rescue him, using the limited equipment and training they had. While able to pull the man out of the water, he had drowned. Having heard about the surf lifesaving at Bude, they contacted the club there for help setting up their own. With a third club founded on Brighton Beach in Sussex, it was decided they should create their own surf lifesaving association. And so, Surf Life Saving GB (SLS GB) was founded.