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Deptherapy’s Red Sea Wrecks – Part 7

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The final part of Gary Green’s account of the Deptherapy Red Sea Military and Forgotten Wrecks liveaboard expedition.

Day 10: Umm Gamar Reef

The last dive of the trip; it wasn’t far away and it was part of the same reef where we had undertaken our check dives on the first day. I would personally nickname this dive ‘the aquarium dive’. I have honestly never seen a reef like it; there was more life on this reef than I have ever seen on any other dive. There was also something I had never even seen before, a porcupine puffer fish (if that is 100% the correct name? I have it on my GoPro) it was absolutely enormous. It was hidden away in a small hole in the middle patch of coral. I looked down the hole and there it was just swimming out towards me, its head absolutely massive. I was completely stopped in my tracks as I watched this giant creature bob itself back and forth. I also encountered two giant morays, the absolute dragons of the sea. No matter how many times I see them and dive with them, I never quite feel comfortable seeing their faces.

Apart from the monsters already mentioned, everywhere you looked was just full of life. It was a case of every time you looked in a different direction there was something else to see. It was like the worlds’ richest and biggest sea life centre, a bit of everything all thrown into the mix; not only that but the colours of the coral were breathtaking; like most of the Red Sea to be honest but somehow here everything just seemed even brighter. I can’t think of a better way to spend our last dive than in the presence of some of the most beautiful creatures known to man. In fact, that dive summed up the whole trip for me… a relaxed dive underwater, having the privilege to spend time in the most secret of all gardens, the coral gardens.

A few words of thanks…

Steve and Clare Rattle

The host and hostess with the mostest – I think that’s the term anyway! I may have to double check. Steve and Clare have been with Deptherapy for a long time, long before I was involved with the charity in any case. I first met them at the Dive Show a few months before I flew out to Roots for my Open Water Diver course back in 2015, not something I would easily forget. Their place in Roots is one of the most spectacular in the Red Sea and the house reef is where I learned to dive and where I was fortunate enough to have dived with a pod of dolphins that had come into the reef to feed. The resort camp (Roots) sits between Safaga and El Quseir; it’s remote in location, which means when you are diving you have the reef to yourself. Once you follow the line out you are within an underwater aquarium absolutely full of all the sea life you could ever wish to see.

In the reception of Roots there are plaques along the wall of all the different regiments that the injured troops have served in. Both Steve and Clare are seasoned divers (being very tactful with my words there) and during this trip Steve often gave tours of the wrecks that he was well accustomed to. Clare also helped out on our dives, often being a buddy for Ben in the strong currents when he was struggling due to the fact that he has no legs to propel himself. I didn’t realise at the time but Steve is a fantastic underwater photographer. He displayed the pictures that he had taken on the TV screen in the briefing room and a lot of the blokes were surprised at just how clear they were. I watched him in the water a few times as he dived with us, like most of the pros team, they are so comfortable in the water, flawless in skill and effortless in technique.

Steve and Clare had chartered the Princess Diana for Deptherapy to make this liveaboard possible. I’m sure that if it wasn’t for them taking time out of their busy schedule (Clare seems to almost fill hers with sunbathing) then I’m not sure if the trip would have ever met its ambitious goal, or at least I am certain it would have been a lot harder. The only downside is that Steve is a West Ham fan, but as they say you can’t win them all! I think in time I may be able to slowly but surely convert him to the Mighty Reds and by that I certainly don’t mean Liverpool. In October this year at the Dive Show, they will be hosting their Pharaoh Dive Club Birthday Bash, to which they have generously invited Deptherapy. Steve and Clare are long time (lifelong) friends of the charity who have truly aided its success. I’m not sure they quite get the praise they deserve, ever humble in their generosity, I, on behalf of the Board, would like to thank them.

To recap what they have given to Deptherapy: they introduced the ‘Miss Scuba’ organisation to Deptherapy, who have to date raised over £7,000. The Pharaoh Dive Club Birthday Bash will raise around £5,000 that they will donate to the charity and they run the Open Water courses for Deptherapy free of charge. They also ran the Advanced Open Water diver courses free of charge for a long time and they then charged below cost for the courses. Words cannot describe what they have done for the charity.

Dmitri Knyazev

A Russian national who is a prolifically skilled underwater photographer and videographer, Dmitri became involved in Deptherapy through his outstanding work with disabled divers. I had seen a lot of his photos with wheelchairs under the sea with disabled divers who he had taught to dive and raised their profile. He then agreed to come and take photos of the Deptherapy team at work. The images he takes are perfect in both quality and content, highlighting the outstanding way that Deptherapy goes above and beyond in its adaptive teaching. His photos bring awareness and a visual representation of the objectives of the charity, depicting the figures of wounded veterans perfectly buoyant in the Red Sea. Some divers missing arms, some missing legs and some missing both, but still as competent in the water as a fully abled individual. Dmitry takes time out of his life to come and support on the trips, truly capturing the most fascinating of images and profiling the charity in the most inspiring of ways.

In Summary

Deptherapy consists of a foundation of generosity, an idea that was completely selfless, taking disabled (both mentally and physically) veterans and using scuba diving as a form of therapy. It grew beyond that, it dared to be greater than the original idea; not just to take wounded veterans in the sea, but also to train them as qualified divers. To break past the limits of what people conceive as possible, what some call impossible. Let’s banish the I and the M, let’s make this possible. The team become adaptive, the Master Instructors thinking outside the box to get limbless veterans to perform a Controlled Swimming Ascent (CESA) or a veteran with one arm to remove and replace his mask; they were patient with their innovative techniques.

They overcame challenges again and again, guys with PTSD who would have ups and downs, so the trainers became mental health first aid trained and could now coach and guide struggling veterans. They run programmes to teach instructors how to use the adaptive techniques, putting themselves in the students’ position so they can use the most practical and realistic solutions. Doctors joined the board and the University of Sheffield produced a case study proving the success of Deptherapy’s ability to rehabilitate veterans through the medium of scuba diving.

This ten days on the liveaboard was at this point, the charities Everest. It was easily conquered. I witnessed myself veterans with no legs penetrate wrecks up to 40 meters below the Red Sea and come up with big smiles on their faces. At the start of the trip some of us were strangers, there was ring rust in the water on our check dives but within a couple of days we were a band of brothers again and a united team above and below the water. On the Scalaria another dive team went past us from a neighbouring liveaboard. I saw their instructors look at our group, gliding through the water with perfect trim and buoyancy. He looked at the divers he was with, kicking their fins up and down, sculling with their arms and he gave a double take as he saw the guys with no legs gracefully moving through the sea. If there was any testimony to what the Pros Team had done then in my opinion that was it. This Everest was climbed, completed, knocked out of the park and now we move on to the next challenge. In August next year there will be a selection process for veterans who will be taken to Truk Lagoon. Deptherapy has grown strong and is still growing in strength. I have seen with my own eyes, once again, just how amazing and incredible people can be. Well done to everyone that smashed their Wreck Diver Speciality. Thank you to everyone who so generously makes these things happen and thank you to the charity and Instructors for continuing to break the bar on scepticism.

Donate to Deptherapy or find out more about their work at www.deptherapy.co.uk

Thanks to Dmitry Knyazev for the incredible photographs.

Gary Green is an author, team leader and PADI AmbassaDIVER. After being medically discharged from the British Army following an IED attack which left him blind in one eye and with PTSD, Gary was introduced to scuba diving through the rehabilitation charity Deptherapy. Gary is living proof of the healing power of scuba.

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PADI Recognises EMEA Members with New Professional Development Excellence Award

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PADI® (Professional Association of Diving Instructors®) has recently launched their new Professional Development Excellence Award in EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa), celebrating PADI Five Star Instructor Development Centers (IDC)  that are championing creating more PADI Professionals, at all levels, during the previous calendar year.

“While becoming a PADI Five Star IDC Center is a prized accreditation amongst members, this exclusive rating comes with the responsibility of training the next generation of divers to become PADI Instructors,” explains Dave Murray, Managing Director for PADI EMEA.

“PADI’s commitment to a continuing education philosophy encourages divers to realise their dreams of a career as a PADI Pro, teaching others to do what they love – to scuba dive. This new recognition award distinguishes productive PADI Five Star IDC stores for the time and effort they dedicate to marketing and conducting the professional training needed to grow the scuba diving industry.”

PADI’s EMEA Professional Development Excellence Award recognises members for reaching specific milestones based on the number of PADI Pro certifications they issue annually. It also provides an extra layer of credentials in their “Pro Development Status” to potential Divemaster and IDC candidates, along with any other prospective Pro-level customers and prospective employees.

The first awards were distributed earlier this year, with 12 PADI Five Star IDC Centers receiving the Platinum Award. This means that they have issued a minimum of 100 PADI Professional certifications from Divemaster to IDC Staff Instructor, which include 30 Core Professional certifications and 70 Continuing Education Instructor level certifications.

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The 2025 PADI EMEA Professional Development Excellence Award is already underway and renewed PADI EMEA Five Star IDC Dive Centers and Resorts are automatically eligible. Stores that reach the recognition levels during 2024 will receive their award in the first quarter of 2025.

For more information about the award and to see the full list of award recipients visit here.

About PADI 

PADI® (Professional Association of Diving Instructors®) is the largest purpose-driven diving organization with a global network of 6,600 dive centers and resorts, 128,000 professional members, and more than 30 million certified divers to date. Committed to our blue planet, PADI makes the wonder of the underwater world accessible to all, empowering people around the world to experience, explore and take meaningful action, as Ocean TorchbearersTM, to protect the world beneath the surface. For over 50 years, PADI is undeniably The Way the World Learns to Dive®, setting the standard for the highest quality dive training, underwater safety and conservation initiatives while evolving the sport of diving into a passionate lifestyle. For divers by divers, PADI is obsessed with transforming lives and, with its global foundation, PADI AWARETM, creating positive ocean change. Seek Adventure. Save the Ocean.SM  www.padi.com

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Introduce family to the wonder of the oceans with new family weeks from Regaldive

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diving holiday

Regal Dive, the diving holiday specialist, is offering Learn to Dive and Family Weeks this summer to encourage divers and those new to the sport to spend some time in the water together, learning and developing their diving skills. There are multiple itineraries on offer providing affordable diving certification, including a range of liveaboard trips which are designed to be inclusive – so that even those who would prefer to simply snorkel are still guaranteed a good time.

ITINERARIES IN THE MALDIVES:

MV Keana: Family Week, perfect for snorkellers, beginners and children.

Spend 10 nights in a Maldivian paradise exploring warm turquoise waters for exciting marine life and beautiful corals, all with a highly experienced diving team on hand. The MV Keana takes guests on an adventure around the remote atolls, home to manta rays, sharks, turtles, dolphins and whale sharks. The vessel accommodates up to 18 guests in comfortable upper deck cabins and features an outdoor bar and dining areaThere is a sundeck to soak in the views of the ocean and pristine white beaches of the surrounding islands.

Price: A 10-night trip on MV Keana costs £3,015 per adult, with children under 11 costing £2,735, including flights, departing 8 August 2024.

AMBA: Liveaboard Diving Beginner’s Tour, Family fun between Male and Vaavu Atoll

Take advantage of a variety of courses and family rates on this week-long beginner’s tour. Guests will complete a diving theory course prior to embarking on AMBA, allowing for the possibility to complete up to four courses whilst aboard, including the Open Water certification. Once certified, guests can explore the Vaavu Atoll, which has the thrilling possibility of shark encounters. More experienced divers can hop aboard the Dhoni to access some of the area’s more challenging dive sites.

Price: A 7-night trip on AMBA costs from £2,400 per adult, with children 11 and under costing £2,210. This price includes flights. Departing 13 August 2024.

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DIVING RESORTS IN THE PHILIPPINES:

Atlantis Puerto Galera & Atlantis Dumaguete Family Weeks

The Atlantis Dive Resorts is offering a range of exceptional deals for family groups this summer. The Family Week special offers include free stays, free meals, free diving places for children (one free child per paying adult). Puerto Galera Resort, in a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, offers accessible diving, diverse coral reefs and exotic marine life. Dumaguete, in the Visayas region, is home to a diverse range of macro species, including ghost pipefish, flamboyant cuttlefish, and various seahorses and octopuses. The resort also grants access to the Dauin Marine Sanctuaries and Apo Island – one of the finest diving destinations in the Philippines. Both hotels are situated in stunning beach-front locations with tropical landscaped gardens and thatched-roof bungalows.

Price: A 7-night stay Atlantis Puerto Galera costs £3,593 per adult and £1,375 per teen, including flights. A 7-night stay at Atlantis Dumaguete costs £3,895 per adult and £1,475 per teen, including flights.

Family week deals at the Atlantis Dive Resorts are available on selected dates in July, August, November and December 2024.

For more information visit www.regal-diving.co.uk.

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