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G. Harold Martin Award

Dr. Klaus Wilkens (GER)

2017 Judge G. Harold Martin Award


Born in 1942, in Luneburg, Germany, Dr. Klaus Wilkens holds a degree in Management and Educational Theory, a Bachelor in “Diplom-Handelslehrer”, and a PhD in management, banking and accounting (University of Hamburg). He worked one year as a Cost Account Manager in the Hamburg Sparkasse Bank and another 38 years as a lecturer at the University of Hamburg teaching economics, management science, accounting and banking until his retirement.


Dr. Wilken’s voluntary lifesaving activities are numerous at the national level in Germany. He started as an instructor for lifesaving, rescue diving and water rescue service (1963-present). He continues serving as Chairman of the local swimming club, Verein Volksbadeanstalt (1974-present), Chairman of the Committee of National Swimming Sports Federations (1975-1998), Chairman of the National Federation for Supporting the Swimming Education (1998-present), and a Member of the Board of the Margot-Probandt-Franke-Foundation (1998).


Dr. Wilkens has been extensively involved in the activities of the German Life Saving Society (DLRG) on all levels of its hierarchy. This included work at its local level with involvement at the DLRG-Club Luneburg, as a member of the Board for Education and Youth (1961-1968), Chairman of the Board (1968-1999) and Honorary Chairman of the Board (1999-present), as well as his work at the DLRG-Verlag und Vertriebsgesellschaft mbH as a member (1988-1995) and Chairman (1995-present) of the Advisory Council. On a higher National level, at DLRG, he served as Vice-Chairman of the Youth Organization, Deputy Member of the Board (1971-1974), Technical Director/Member of the Board (1974-1989), Treasurer/Member of the Board (1989-1995), Chairman of the Advisory Council of the Education of Hotel Ltd. (1995-present), Vice President (1995-1998), and President (1998-present).


Apart from his important administrative roles, Klaus has been involved in several special drowning prevention projects for children in the last 25 years. This includes beach festivals for children in water safety (1988), the “Kindergarten-Day” (2001-present), and swimming teaching in the kindergartens (2006-present). As a result, during the last decade, the drowning rate of children aged 0-15 years old in Germany, was reduced by 80%.


In addition to his voluntary life-saving activities in Germany, Klaus played a very important key role at the international level for the last four decades. More precisely, he was responsible for the international sport, education and rescue activities in DLRG (1974-1989). At the Federation Internationale de Sauvetage Aquatique (FIS), he served as a member of the Technical Commission (1974-1989), Secretary General (1985-1994), and Moniteur (1997). At the Federation for Supporting International Lifeguarding, he served as Vice President (1987-1999) and President (1999-). At the International Life Saving Federation of Europe (ILSE) he acted as Secretary General (1994-1997), President (1997-2012) and Honorary Life-President (2012-). Finally, at the International Life Saving Federation, he was the Vice President (1998-2012) and President (2012). He is an ILS-International Instructor since 1989.


Further to his international administration contributions he served the water safety field by participating in various international initiatives. He was involved in lifeguard and lifesaving instructor educational projects in 16 countries for over 20 years. He conducted several co-operations with the European Association for Injury Prevention and Safety Promotion, the European Child Safety Alliance, the Foundation for Environmental Education Blue Flag Campaign and made several risk assessment training courses in different European countries. In addition, he was the chief organizer of “EC 2005”, the World Sport Lifesaving Championships of “RESCUE 1990” and “RESCUE 2008” that were all held in Germany, the Series European Qualification Framework for lifesaving and contributed to the development of Safety Information Boards in Germany (and other parts of Europe) in combinations with risk assessments. Dr. Wilkens’ work has been repeatedly awarded nationally and internationally.

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