Centre Of Excellence – The Beginning
When John Ellis and Will Houston took over Surf South West in 2019, the surf school founder, Darren Burrett, had already laid down the foundations of an exceptionally progressive surf school. Established in 1996 Surf South West was the first surf school ever to be based in Croyde Bay. A surfing idyll, North Devon was soon to become an epicentre for the sport. Attracting talented surfers from all over the world, Croyde was a natural location for a Surf School that could play a major role in developing exceptional surf professionals.
As youngsters John, originally from Warrington and Will from Plymouth, were keen surfers. They met at Surf South West when they attended their instructor courses. Both of them loved the environment so much that they continued their surf training at the school. They became full time instructors and developed their coaching careers whilst learning the business from the grass roots level up.
Their admiration for Darren is evident, John says, “Darren is a hugely respected member of the surf community and he built a fine surf school. His original vision was tantamount to the school becoming a Gold Standard Surf School and also achieving Surfing England’s ‘Surf Centre of Excellence’ Award. He was our role model. We learnt so much from Darren and he’s still an important member of the team. Darren built the Surf South West family from nothing and Will and I always wanted to maintain that supportive vibe. Darren truly developed our careers, and our lives, so we are keen to pass on that level of support and belief to others.”
Centre Of Excellence Midlife
When Darren retired in 2019, it seemed natural to let John and Will rise to ascension. As John explains,”When we bought the company from Darren it was really important to us that we maintained and developed it’s reputation as a centre of excellence. We decided to increase momentum by adding more ocean based activities. This included coasteering and paddle board tuition whilst developing our mainstream surf instructor services.
John continues, “We also embraced the latest sport’s technology and added surf instruction film techniques to up our game. In addition, Beau Bromham joined us to provide professional strength and conditioning training. Through these actions our core surf offerings – coaching, instructor courses and lifeguard training, maintain the highest standards. Basically, we take that Centre of Excellence tag really seriously and will always want to be the best that we can be. It’s the ethos we live by every day at the club.”
And we think that making Surf South West the best it could be is exactly what the guys have achieved. Working as a close knit family, all the Surf South West team continue to develop the school. This is what helps to make it one of the largest and most successful surf schools in the UK today.
Key to this success is that Surf South West is one of a minority of international schools offering the much prized Surfing England/International Surfing Association Level 2 Surf Instructor Qualification. This has ensured that the school is firmly established as a global, premier provider of surfing courses.
In addition, the school now offers support to other dynamic and award winning projects which are forging new cultural paradigms through the surfing lifestyle. These include educational environment projects such as The Wave Rangers Project; female empowerment and surf diversity projects through the Wave Wahines CIC; The Wave Project who provides surf therapy sessions to children with emotional and physical needs and now the Wave Project Adaptive Surfing activities which are making surfing accessible to all.
John states, “Will and I always believed that the surfing was a powerful medium for change. Surfing communities around the world are now altering society for the better and we wanted Surf South West to be at the forefront of that movement. It all goes back to that ethos of being the best that you can possibly be.”
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Looking forward to sharing a wave with you soon,
The SSW Crew x