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Gary Green: Rescue Diver



Sat in the Wraysbury Dive Centre with the Deptherapy Dive Team, Sandra tells a story to the group about when she was at a night club at University. She tells how she met Tom Jones and asked for his autograph, then later that night sold the autograph. We laughed and I told a similar story afterwards comparing our situations: “I once stole a girl’s ice watch at a house party and swapped it for a gram of cocaine”.

It’s a true story and I only said it for its humour value in comparison to what Sandra said. I don’t mind telling these stories now because of the transformation that followed, otherwise I would have probably kept my mouth shut;  in fact if there had been no transformation I suppose I would not have been there in the first place. Everyday I am somewhat reminded of the past I am trying to leave behind, whether it’s an impromptu joke that spouts from my gums, or a memory on my Facebook where my wide eyes and swinging jaw have been captured by photograph in my ‘on this day’ section of my smartphone. It’s a good bar to measure myself by though, because each day those memories get further and further away.

Today I woke up next to my girlfriend. I got out of bed, washed, slipped into my work uniform and headed to work to manage a warehouse. Four years ago it was a totally different story. I accepted no responsibility for my actions. It was ok to be on drugs and drinking because I had PTSD. I couldn’t work because I had PTSD and I had ‘earned’ my right to this because I had been to war. This was because I acknowledged PTSD but I had not accepted it.

Thankfully my life has now taken a serious diversion from the road I just mentioned. This weekend, in fact the two days before Sandra had told her story about Tom Jones, I had been completing my PADI Rescue Diver course. It was a moment of pride telling that story about the watch, not because of my actions but because of how proud I am of the journey I have taken.

The course started with a recap of my knowledge reviews, well in fact it began with me completing my knowledge reviews, as in true Gary Green fashion I had not completed them. I like to think I’m quite switched on so I picked up the theory quickly and was able to apply myself, even with Richard Cullen giving me the stern eye.

It’s important to take in the theory side I believe, obviously because you need to pass the test but also because it makes sense of the physical actions and vice versa. After the theory side it was time to start kitting up; the sun was blazing so the thought of jumping into the cold water was highly appetising. I donned my Otter drysuit given to me by John Womack. I always feel like a proper diver in my drysuit, plus I like the fact it keeps me dry and warm in the British waters. After a squat to let out the excess air and my buddy checks, I’m ready to jump in (by that I mean carefully enter the water of course).

I think my military training and mentality aided my skills and drills, I was able to assess each scenario as they were thrown at me again, again and again. A tired diver 10 meters from the shore calls me for help after I had already completed five or six tired diver tows. My fatigued body and mind reacts. I grab a safety line from next to my kit; I pull the cord latching onto the handle; I take the kneeling position, find my aim and throw. I may have been too drawn into the situation as the heavy end of the line flies toward the tired diver then hits her in the face. Luckily Sandra was OK and I apologised… “Sorry I’m used to throwing grenades,” I laughed in my response.

After the first day my body was very tired. I cannot remember the amount of times I navigated through green cold water and lifted unconscious divers from the bottom of Wraysbury reservoir. I’m pretty sure in my sleep that night I was whispering “one, one thousand. Two, one thousand, flick, prepare”. My trainers Stuart and Richard laugh at me as I say “God it kills me trying to give rescue breaths and get their kit off.” I think Richard’s words were, “I’ve never heard a squaddie say they don’t like taking someone’s kit off before.”

The next day I woke up with a stiff back and sore legs. There was that anxiety butterfly in my tummy, the kind you get when you’re heading into the office to get told off. My thought was though “if I’ve already done everything I have done in my life, then why not it do, why not take the challenge?” So committedly I embarked on my journey to Wraysbury It started with the test, the theory peak of the mountain that I had not started to climb, yet somehow with experience and common sense I managed to pass with a combined score of ninety percent. “There must be a God,” I thought to myself.

After donning my kit I had to practice a few more drills to make sure I was competent enough to take the assessment scenarios. I applied myself fully as in everything I do. Whether a rescue diver course, a risk assessment at work or even four years ago when I was borderline alcoholic/drug user, I always gave one hundred percent, I was fully committed to drugs! I try and stay away from the term addict or alcoholic because that insinuates that I needed them. I didn’t need them; I was addicted to the buzz and the escape from my PTSD. At this moment though, I was committed to passing this course.

Ironic that the man drowning inside, struggling to breathe in a mind consumed with fear and anxiety, is now rescuing someone from underwater.

I passed more of the course, according to my trainers ‘with flying colours’. The man that stands watching me, Richard Cullen, the self-proclaimed Scuba God, assesses my skills and reactions. Anyone that knows him, knows that he insists on demanding courses and is not an easy man to impress in the water. A comment from him on my assessment was: “You are by far in the top echelon of Rescue Divers that we have ever trained, this is concurred by the whole team.”

A very proud moment… to not only have the honour of reflecting on my transformation but to have completed it under such pressure. Under the water there is no PTSD for me; in the water I’m a guest for my own freedom.

I am now a Rescue Diver. I look back on my past and smile; it’s a fortune with no value to anyone but myself. Self-belief and determination got me to this point. Sitting and telling that story around the table in Wraysbury dive centre was just a step on a long journey to recovery, one that is supported by my family, the love of my life Emily and by Deptherapy.

Find out more about the work of Deptherapy at:

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.

Dive Training Blogs

Deptherapy returns to its Roots – Part 7



Join Richard Cullen from Deptherapy for the final part of his Blog about the charity’s recent expedition to Roots Red Sea, El Quseir, Egypt.

Deptherapy expeditions do not just magically happen, they need planning and they need funding.  This expedition was funded by our long-term partners the Veterans’ Foundation.  The funding is part of a grant they awarded us for programmes this year, which were then put on hold because of COVID.

All charities in the Armed Forces’ Sector are struggling for funds. Deptherapy desperately needs support going forward and every penny counts.

We know what we do works and at the end of this blog you will find details of the research studies into Deptherapy’s programmes and how they impact on the lives of our beneficiaries.  This includes details that are hot off the press about the latest study that reports that what we offer through scuba diving and 24/7 support has benefits beyond those found in other sporting rehabilitation programmes.

Well tomorrow we fly home, late in the evening with the journey home for some of the guys who live up North taking around 15 hours after leaving Roots.

We want to make the most of today but with the tide running we are not going to be able to dive until later this morning which means only two dives today.

Oatsie and Swars about to start their sidemount dives

Things, however are really busy over at the dive centre with Swars and Oatsie putting their sidemount kit together for their training dives with Steve Rattle leading to their RAID sidemount qualification.  It has been nice to be able to offer the guys this extra training, given the amount of work they have put in this week.  They have needed to get through their theory quickly but given the RADI online learning system this has not been too arduous.

Steve came diving with us yesterday to get some more photos and was really amazed at the progress that Corey had made. He was quite open in his praise, as in his view Corey has gone from a non-diver to being a very competent OW diver capable of diving, unsupervised, with a buddy.  Praise indeed.

Other than the sidemount course we are diving as a group today: Corey, Keiron, Michael, Moudi and me. Corey has been given some tasks – SMB deployment on both dives and the afternoon dive will be a ‘naturalist dive’.  Guy Henderson has set Corey a task: ‘to identify three species of fish and record the time into the dive and the depth at which each one was spotted’.  Guy runs Marine Biology courses on the reef and knows where the fish are to be found, how long into the dive, and at what time.

The two Toms are getting put through their paces. They have walked their cylinders down to the entry point, but Steve sends them back to the dive centre to collect other kit they should have brought with them.

Our general dive goes well and the sidemount guys appear from their sidemount dive some 90 minutes after dipping their heads under the water.

Corey enjoying being a RAID OW20 Diver

Lots of bubbly chat at lunchtime, a group of really happy divers. Corey really has benefited from the week and over lunch thanked the team for making him a diver. He has very quickly become part of the family and after returning home he published an amazing post on Facebook about his experience.  Corey really gets Deptherapy and had soon realised that we see past mental and physical injuries and see the person inside and work with that person.  He also realised that we want beneficiaries to see their fellow beneficiaries in the same light.  He knows he now has another ‘family’ – a family of brothers in arms who have two things in common, they served their country and they have suffered life changing injuries or illnesses.

Back into the water for the afternoon dive and Corey identifies the fish and records the details on a slate.  The two Tom’s complete their second dive and qualify as RAID Sidemount Divers. Great!

Kit packed away and it is time to return to the camp for a few well-earned last night drinks.

I am often asked why we use Roots as our exclusive base for diving. I have mentioned before that it offers us an ideal retreat, away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. We are secluded and there are no distractions such as late-night bars etc.

Roots Accessible Room

The second reason is the amazing welcome we receive from Steve, Clare, Moudi and the team.  We have been going to Roots since 2014 and many of the staff have become good friends, they understand our needs and are the friendliest people you could ever wish to meet.

The third reason is the huge investment Steve and Clare have made in making the resort and dive centre accessible for those with physical injuries including those who need to use wheelchairs.  All our beneficiaries can enjoy Roots and, in fact, love it here.  The reef is perfect for us and in non-COVID times we can travel to the Salem Express and other dive sites to enjoy more of the Red Sea experience.

Accessible toilet on the Roots beach

After discussions with the team I was very proud to be able to tell Corey that his progress had been such that we were inviting him on the Armed Forces Covenant Fund Trust sponsored two-week Marine Biology Course at Roots in June 2021. There is lots of homework to undertake under the guidance of Dr Debbie McNeill of Open Oceans and Corey will be sent the Red Sea Guide which is the basis for study.

While on that programme, Corey with fellow beneficiary Dale Mallin, will complete his RAID Advanced 35 course.  This all builds to a 10-day Red Sea liveaboard in 2022, onboard Roots’ new boat Big Blue where 18 beneficiaries will compare the coral and aquatic life on the wrecks of the SS Thistlegorm and the less known SS Turkia that is to be found in the Gulf of Suez and is rarely dived.

Paul Rose, our Vice President, is supporting the programme and is seeking the support of the UN and the Royal Geographical Society. A comprehensive report will be submitted to our partners in the project and to the Egyptian Authorities.

Last night and chill

What we do works:

In recent years there have been three academic studies into our work:

2018 – A study by a team from the University of Sheffield Medical School.

2019 – A study by The Centre of Trauma at Nottingham University.

Both these studies reported very positively on Deptherapy’s work both underwater but also in terms of the provision of 24/7 support.

The following is from our press release which was issued on 26th October:

‘A new study into Scuba Diving Rehabilitation Charity Deptherapy’s approach to supporting Armed Forces veterans with psychological injuries such as Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) through the medium of scuba diving has been carried out by Petra Walker in conjunction with Hanna Kampman of the Posttraumatic Growth Research Unit at the University of East London.

This study, which used Interpretive Phenomenological Analysis (IPA), demonstrates that scuba diving has rehabilitation benefits beyond those found in other forms of sporting rehabilitation exercise. IPA is a qualitative methodology that examines the experiences of participants and has been used in previous studies of Posttraumatic Growth (PTG) in para-athletes.

Petra is an experienced diver herself and was exploring the wellbeing aspects of scuba diving as part of her Masters in Applied Positive Psychology and Coaching Psychology when she came across a previous study on Deptherapy. Past studies have mainly focused on the medical aspects of diving, so the opportunity to examine the mental health side of rehabilitative scuba diving was impossible to ignore. The full study is currently embargoed until it is published at a future date in an academic journal, but it follows similar academic research into the work of Deptherapy by the University of Sheffield Medical School (2018) and the University of Nottingham (2019).’

This is amazing news and sets us apart from other sporting rehabilitation programmes.

We are currently working with our VP Richard Castle who is a Consultant Psychologist and our Dive Medicine Advisor Mark Downs to identify further areas of psychological and physical dive related research.

We end the week on a happy note.  A young man who has learned to dive properly with a RAID OW 20 certification, a new RAID Master Rescue Diver, two new RAID Sidemount Divers, 5 new RAID O2 Providers, many assessments for our DMs but most of all a week of learning, of making new friendships, renewing old friendships, and building on our family ethos.

Until we meet again…

For us, Deptherapy is a journey, a journey that continues to push boundaries in the use of scuba diving in the rehabilitation of those suffering life changing mental and/or physical challenges.  On our journey we want to change the way the scuba diving industry views diving for those with disabilities.

In the new year, we will be launching, with our diver training agency partners RAID, a new and exciting adaptive teaching programme that will offer diving to the disabled community. We can’t wait to share it with you!

Find out more about the work of Deptherapy and Deptherapy Education at

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Dive Training Blogs

Deptherapy returns to its Roots – Part 6



Join Richard Cullen from Deptherapy for part 6 of his Blog about the charity’s recent expedition to Roots Red Sea, El Quseir, Egypt.

Thursday has dawned and it is down to the House Reef with an outgoing tide that is approaching slack so we can get in the water straight away.   Lots of chat about last night’s RAID O2 Provider session with Moudi.  Oatsie is talking about sidemounts and marine biology, Swars is looking forward to his first sidemount session this afternoon.

Moudi is supported by Oatsie this morning and doing some more skill work with Keiron.

Moudi running the guys through the RAID O2 Administrator Course

Corey was asking last night about what it is like at 30 metres, so I have decided that with Michael and Swars we will take him to 30 metres.  We are going to run a narcosis exercise so out comes the slate with the numbers 1 – 25 randomly placed in squares.  Corey’s task, in the dive centre, is as quickly as possible to touch each number in sequence.  He does it pretty quickly and Michael briefs him that he will need to do the same exercise at 30 metres.

Michael briefs the dive and we set off down the beach.  Corey has improved beyond measure and he is becoming a pleasure to dive with.  So we are off to follow the South reef to 30 metres where we will complete the second part of the exercise.

At 30 metres Michael hands Corey the slate; there is a considerable difference in the time to complete the exercise at the surface and at 30 metres.  There are lots of mitigating factors in how quickly you can identify the numbers and explaining a slower time at 30 metres than at the surface does not mean an individual is suffering from narcosis.  Identifying random numbers, if you run the exercise at the surface, several times with an individual over a number of hours can result in wide variations in the time taken to complete the exercise.

We finish the dive with Corey smiling from ear to ear and we have a discussion about depth and air consumption.  The second dive of the morning is a fun dive, then it is lunch in the beach restaurant.  After the burgers I am sure we will need to look at our weighting before the afternoon’s dive.

We will need to look at weighting after this lunch!

Corey and Keiron have got into the habit of recording their dives online using the RAID online log book which is a tremendous facility and as the instructor I can access that data.

Moudi and Keiron are going for a fun dive as are Corey, Oatsie, Michael and myself. Swars is getting kitted up for the first experience of sidemount with Guy Henderson.

Swars getting to grips with his sidemount cylinders

People often look at the relationships that exist between the dive team and our beneficiaries and try to extrapolate a similar relationship to disabled students they might have.  Our relationships are built up over a period of time, in some cases over many years.  We also provide 24/7 support and have chat groups etc on social media; we also meet up socially when we can.  It is somewhat different than a individual coming in to a dive centre and saying ‘I want to dive’. Your relationship is likely to be the same as any other student, you will teach them, they might stay with the dive centre or like many that will go on holiday to do some diving, you might never see them again.

Our main aim is to create a family atmosphere for our programme members, one where they feel secure and they are able to discuss freely with the team and fellow beneficiaries their feelings and needs.

Few dive centres are charities, and owners might want to consider costs of running a course for someone with a disability that might take more than the standard four pool sessions etc.  You may find the number of sessions and the staffing levels have to increase.  Many dive centres, because of their size and turnover are exempt from providing accessibility.  How will this affect someone who is a wheelchair user?  Can they gain access to the dive centre, the classroom, the toilet?  What are the changing facilities, can they get wheelchair access to the pool?

Lots of things to think about.

Roots’ beautiful reef

The reef is beautiful, so much aquatic life and the corals look splendid, especially the pinnacles.

A good day’s diving, Swars has really enjoyed his sidemount.

Lovely way to relax in the evening with the Roots BBQ, a fitting end to a great day.

Last day tomorrow and our final blog!

Find out more about the work of Deptherapy and Deptherapy Education at

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