Scubaverse.com’s Editor-at-Large Jeff Goodman speaks to Hannah Higgins about being Miss Scuba UK 2017 and what the role entails
JG: Hi Hannah! Many congratulations on winning Miss Scuba UK 2017.
HH: Thank you very much!!
JG: Can you tell us a little about the event, what it entails and how it differs from other beauty pageants?
HH: OK, so Miss Scuba is an event which aims to empower ladies from the UK to learn more about marine conservation, not only in allowing them to gain more information, but also from a perspective of gaining contacts, learning ways they can get involved in volunteer/charity/fund raising, and access to professionals in the field. The event also aims to promote more women getting involved in the sport (data from The dive lab – 2014: 72% of core scuba divers and 61% of casual scuba divers are male), and again allowing those who already dive to be ambassadors of safe diving practices, and gain contacts in diving all over the world. Being a pageant it also promotes women developing their inner confidence, so that they can excel in all aspects of the competition interviews, public speaking, photo-shoots (Miss Scuba is a brand ambassador), catwalk stage show, and networking. Above all its an event in which anyone who enjoys scuba diving, or cares about our oceans, can get together and raise some money for charity and have lots of fun!!
JG: I assume being Miss Scuba UK will take up much of your time in the coming 12 months, but what were you doing before this and what would you like to do after?
HH: I’m hoping to get involved in as much as I can as Miss Scuba UK over the coming months!! And I can’t wait to see where the title takes me. Outside Miss Scuba I am a 4th year student Doctor at Sheffield University. I am involved with several medical charities, and a lot of my time is taken up raising money for those, or participating in medical missions (Last year West Africa, and before that, East Africa). I am also involved in two research projects at the moment, one with the Sheffield children’s hospital, and one with the charity Deptherapy (scuba diving’s effects on rehabilitation). After this I hope to finally qualify as a Doctor, and also get some experience in expedition Dive medicine and also Hyperbaric Medicine in an effort to fuse two of my passions into a career!
JG: Did you scuba dive before you became interested in applying for Miss Scuba UK?
HH: I did. I had been traveling with a friend who already dived in Indonesia, and had completed my Open water dive qualification in the Gili islands in Bali. Through the competition though, I have had the opportunity to complete further training sponsored by some amazing dive instructors (hugely helpful, as being a student I would have had to wait until I qualified to be able to afford the courses if not) and now I am only two specialties away from achieving my master diver!
JG: What is it you enjoy about diving?
HH: Alongside being a Student Doctor, I also work nights as a mental health care worker, and then with everything else I enjoy being a part of, my life is BUSY (for the last 4 years I have run my timetable from an excel spreadsheet… eek!) but every time I sink my head below the water for a dive its like pure silence, relaxation and amazement for nearly an hour. No technology, no conversations, no time to think about work (too many amazing things to see), and nothing, not even a massage gives that level of relaxation! It’s like therapy for your soul! I’m also a huge animal lover, and just witnessing the abundance of marine life in all its different forms is just mind blowing every single time.
JG: Do you have any dislikes or issues you would like to change about diving?
HH: I’m always torn between arguing that a rattle should be part of the standard kit for all new divers from a safety perspective. I have known a few people get into difficulty and it take 30 seconds for the dive master to turn round. A rattle would make it more instant and maybe give the new diver more confidence. – I’m caveating this with it being made known to the people wearing rattles that they are to be used only when a real issue presents itself; no one wants their peaceful dive disturbed constantly if there isn’t a valid reason for using one!
JG: Can you tell me how Miss Scuba UK is involved with marine conservation, and are there any projects you are directly involved with or would like to take part in?
HH: Every year Miss Scuba UK organizes beach cleans and underwater cleanups for the contestants (these have taken place in the UK, Egypt, Cyprus, and Fuerteventura so far). They also organize talks from professionals on current issues affecting the UK, and encourage the girls involved to seek out the issues they really identify with and get involved in any way they can.
I have personally been involved with beach cleanups (UK, Egypt, Cyprus, Fuerteventura, Malaysia, Vietnam), volunteering in turtle hatcheries (Bali, Malaysia), running a campaign to generate towels to donate to the RSPCA seal sanctuary and rescue center, underwater dive cleanups, educational programs to educate local businesses on the ‘good fish guide’ and coral rejuvenation projects in Indonesia.
JG: Did you have any concerns about the marine environment and conservation before entering Miss Scuba UK?
HH: I did. It started when I watched Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s Fish Fight Campaign in 2010. After that I started being much more conscious about which fish I chose to eat and buy. But It wasn’t until I started scuba diving that I saw with my own eyes the terrible damage we are doing to our oceans, and felt a desperation to do what I could to make marine conservation a much bigger part of my life.
JG: Is Miss Scuba UK involved at all with charity work or other institutions?
HH: Miss Scuba UK has raised thousands for their partner charity Deptherapy (I was sponsored to completed the ‘tough mudder’ obstacle course as part of my contribution), a charity that seeks to rehabilitate veterans through scuba diving. This year the event also raised money for the bucket list for former contestant of MSUK who has been sadly diagnosed with Motor Neuron disease.
JG: Would you recommend scuba diving to people who have not really thought of taking it up before?
HH: YES!! Scuba diving is an incredible way to stay fit, learn a new skill (great for young people wanting interesting stand out activities for their CV), meet some incredibly interesting new people, challenge yourself, and ultimately see the 80% of the planet you cant see from the surface! Diving is great for all ages (I’ve just encouraged my parents to start diving in their 50’s, and my younger brother in his teens), its great for people to build their confidence in the water, and great for couples to have an activity they can enjoy together. It’s a great sport for parents and children to do together, while giving their children a much greater awareness of the world around them.
JG: We at Scubaverse look forward to following you throughout this coming year and hearing updates on your travels and adventures.
HH: Thank you so much! I’ll keep you updated!
To find out more about Miss Scuba UK visit www.missscubaunitedkingdom.com.
Dream Dive Locker Build Out. Part I: Demolition (Watch Video)
It’s finally here! Time to start building the greatest dive locker the world has ever seen! Part I: Demolition! #dreamdivelocker
This is the first of a series of videos showing the evolution of building out my dream dive locker. My dream dive locker needs to be dive gear drying and storage, dry storage, workshop, office, editing suite, You Tube studio and classroom. That’s a lot of functions for a small space!
The first step is planning out the space and demolishing the laminate flooring. Then I taped up the walls to get a feel for the space. We have a lot of work to do!
But finally we will have a purpose built space to house all of our dive equipment! Subscribe to our channel to follow our progress!
Thanks for watching, Team!
Subscribe here: http://bit.ly/DiversReady
The BiG Scuba Podcast… with Paul Rose
Next in a new series of podcasts shared by our friends Gemma and Ian aka The BiG Scuba Podcast…
Ian and Gemma chat to Paul Rose. A man at the front line of exploration and one of the world’s most experienced divers, field science and polar experts, Paul Rose helps scientists unlock and communicate global mysteries in the most remote and challenging regions of the planet.
He is an experienced television presenter and radio broadcaster. With a proven track record in business engagements, Paul is a sought-after speaker, chairman, host and moderator for industry, government and NGO events.
Former Vice President of the Royal Geographical Society(link is external) and Chair of the Expeditions and Fieldwork Division, Paul is currently Expedition Leader for the National Geographic Pristine Seas Expeditions.
He was the Base Commander of Rothera Research Station, Antarctica, for the British Antarctic Survey for 10 years and was awarded HM The Queen’s Polar Medal. For his work with NASA and the Mars Lander project on Mt Erebus, Antarctica, he received the US Polar Medal.
Paul is a mountain and polar guide leading Greenland Icecap crossing and mountaineering expeditions and polar science support logistics. He worked for four years as a Mountain Safety consultant to the oil industry in the Middle East.
On his 2012 Greenland expedition, Paul led the first expedition to successfully traverse a new 275km icecap route of Knud Rasmussen Land and repeated his first ascent of the north face of Gunnsbjørnfjeld, the highest mountain in the Arctic.
His professional diving work includes science support diving in Antarctica as the British Antarctic Survey’s Institute Diving Officer. He ran the US Navy diver training programme at Great Lakes Naval Training Centre and trained many emergency response dive teams including the Police, Fire Department and Underwater Recovery Teams. He remains a current and active PADI Dive Instructor.
Find out more about Paul Rose at www.paulrose.org
Find more podcast episodes and information at www.thebigscuba.com and on most social platforms @thebigscuba
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This is the perfect start to your 2021 diving season… and at an incredible lead-in price of just £885 per person.
Jump on board the latest addition to the Emperor fleet and enjoy diving the famous sites of the Red Sea with this fantastic special offer. This itinerary takes in the wonderful South & St Johns from 26 February – 05 March 2021.
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