Want to join a dive club? In this new series, we take a look at grassroots diving and find out what’s happening on the club scene in the UK and around the world…
What is the name of your club?
Where is your club based?
Purley and Caterham, South London, Surrey Borders
Club affiliations (i.e. BSAC, PADI, SAA, etc.)
The club is not affiliated to any agency although the sister dive school offers PADI courses.
Where and when do you meet?
We meet on the first Tuesday of each month at 8pm in the Jolly Farmers Pub in Purley. Our pool sessions are the first Saturday of each month in Caterham.
How do you respond to the challenge of recruiting new members?
The club and the school are intrinsically linked. We share the information about the dive club with any new diver who comes to the dive school. We are active on social media so potential members can see what we get up to, and that we’re an active club with a mix of divers. We have a loyal and committed group of members so they share our leaflets and spread the word through friends and diving buddies they meet abroad.
The biggest aspect of membership is retaining members. Divers want to dive so we offer a range of day trips and week trips so all experience levels can get involved. We share information on any kit that is going cheap to increase the accessibility for divers, and experienced divers buddy up with newer divers. We have a mix of activities at our club meetings such as visiting speakers (e.g. Dr Mark Downs, Paul “Duxy” Duxfield, Ian France) and workshops (e.g. dive scenarios, kit care which includes pulling old first stages apart) as well as time to just catch up on the diving we’ve done that month.
What facilities and resources does the club use/have?
We have the use of a room at the pub which is handy. We gather in the bar and then head upstairs for either a talk or a workshop. We have a standing booking at a local pool, and access to a stunning private pool for additional pool sessions. We have invested in kit for newer divers to use whilst they build their own kit up.
We have supportive instructors and experienced divers who are able to offer training and coaching and club members are generous in helping others get into the water.
What kind of diving do you do, and where?
Our main focus is UK Diving so we have around four weekend trips abroad. Last year we visited Plymouth, Chesil and the Farne Islands, with a monthly trip to an inland dive site and a few day trips such as Brighton and Eastbourne. In 2018 we’ve Weymouth, the Isle of Man and Porthkerris in the diary and we’ll supplement these with inland dive sites and south coast boat dives.
We have an annual Rescue Refresher which we offer to club members to keep their Rescue skills fresh. We also have an annual trip to the Dive Chamber to experience the effects of 50m. We arrange trips to dive related experiences such as the Ocean Film Festival. This is a great way of including non-diving partners as they come along too.
2018 will see the inaugural Zombie Apocalypse PADI Specialty which will be a day of mystery, fun and excitement!
Do you organise any club trips abroad, and if so, where?
We arrange one overseas trip a year. In 2016 the club visited the Red Sea and Nemo33 in Belgium; in 2017 it was Malta. In 2018 we are heading to Lanzarote to visit the underwater museum. Members often buddy up to dive overseas with each other. In the last couple of years this has included Spain, Iceland, the Netherlands, Truk Lagoon and Cyprus.
Does your club have any special interests such as conservation, special projects, etc?
Our main aim is to open up UK Diving to as many people as possible and share with them the superb opportunities there is right here on their doorstep. We have a very popular Youth section with nearly 20 youngsters regularly attending pool sessions, and some moving onto the Open Water course. We will build on this with more trips and activities that involve the younger divers such as mini club talks from visiting speakers prior to the main club talk, and a weekend trip adjusted for depth limits.
We now have three Youth Ocean Diver Ambassadors (nicknamed YODAs) who come along to pool sessions and mentor new children divers. Whilst they are not able to take any responsibility with courses, they are able to jointly plan mini dives, do buddy checks together and they have started to demonstrate skills alongside the instructor. This builds their confidence and their skill set and creates a great atmosphere in pool sessions. We supplement this with information on conservation and the marine life around the UK. We take them through a little bit of physics or physiology each month to link theory to practical in an accessible way, and to ignite their passion to learn more about diving and marine life in general.
We realised that there was a big drop off in female divers, and we were struggling to fill spaces on boats as people’s holiday was limited. As a result we have started “Flexi Trips” where we offer divers the opportunity to book their own accommodation so they can bring partners, children and dogs along, or where we offer the accommodation out to partners but then have fewer spots on the boat. Members have taken advantage of this on every trip we’ve arranged in the UK in 2017, and are doing so again in 2018. As this builds we will be able to buddy up on child/dog care and the whole family can get involved.
Our dive club members are varied in their own interests; photography and wrecks are the main two so we try to combine these when choosing dive sites. The James Eagen Layne is a perfect example of a site that keeps everyone happy!
Does your club have any claims to fame or any particularly interesting stories… or members?
Colin Pullen is a real, bona fide Zombie instructor!
What are the club’s plans for the future?
We want to continue what we’ve started: increase accessibility to UK Diving by offering different trips to get people’s fins in the water; give children the chance to get into the sea; and, dive as much as we can.
Where can people find out more about your club?
- Call: 07711266476
You’re always to come down to the Jolly Farmers on the first Tuesday of each month from 8pm and meet us too!
Finally… if you could sum up your club in just one sentence, what would it be?
It’s all about the diving!