As you know, we’re incredibly proud to have been given the accolade of the Surfing England’s Centre of Surf Excellence Award. It isn’t just about providing brilliant surf instruction though – not for us anyway. If its one thing we’ve learnt being based in a North Devon coastal village, it’s that community matters. And we’re lucky enough to be surrounded by a local community creating life changing projects. It all goes back to the family ethos that Surf South West holds so dear. We belief in giving back and supporting those around us. This lies deep within the heart of Surf South West and it is passionately upheld by Directors, John and Will. That’s why the club continues to fully supported local schools, businesses, clubs and a variety of visionary community projects.
Community Matters One: Wave Wahines CIC
These projects include Wave Wahines CIC, which was set up by local surfer Yvette Curtis five years ago in order to empower and increase self confidence in girls and women through the sport of surfing. It’s a project that breaks downs barriers and female stereotypes; tackles cultural inequalities heads on and supports diversity and equality in surfing for women of all ethnicities. Wave Wahines popularity has sky rocketed since lockdown, and it is now having far-reaching, positive effects on many women’s lives.
All Wave Wahines weekly surf sessions are based at the club with Surf South West instructor Karma Worthington heading up the surf tuition. In recent weeks, the club has even hosted visits from young girls from war torn Syria, some of whom had never been into the sea, let alone surfed it. Can you imagine the excitement.
Yvette comments “The team at Surf South West have been fantastic. From the very beginning they’ve believed in what I was trying to create and they have fully supported me. Our relationship has grown and grown over the past 5 years. Wave Wahines wouldn’t be what it is today had it not been for Surf South West and their fabulous team. I truly owe them so much.”
Community Matters Two: The Wave Project
The same sentiments are very much re-iterated by the team at The Wave Project North Devon – the world’s first ‘surf therapy’ course funded by a government health service to help young people improve their emotional and physical well being through surfing.
Jasmine Bennett, Wave Project North Devon Coordinator states, “Working with Surf South West as our partner surf school in North Devon is brilliant. The surf school are really accommodating for us, especially this year as we plan in more surf therapy than ever before to help support young people who have been affected by lockdown and are struggling with their mental health.”
Why Surf South West?
Jasmine says, “The facilities are just what we need for our sessions, with clean changing rooms and lovely outdoor space. Surf South West always have a range of kit available for us to use too. Most of all, the staff at Surf South West make the sessions so wonderful. Surf South West go above and beyond to make everyone feel welcome.”
Providing our young people with excellent tuition on the beach, the instructors follow up with coaching tips in the water. Importantly they celebrate the success of every one of our young people as they embark on their surfing journey. From wipeouts to turns and tricks, the surf instructors are supportive and encouraging. They really capture the spirit of what the Wave Project is about. We are so grateful to work with Surf South West, an amazing surf school at one of the best surfing beaches in the UK.”
Community Matters Three: Adaptive Surfing
The Wave Project North Devon has also become central in providing Adaptive Surf Sessions to the region. Currently Adaptive Surfing is the fastest growing sector in the sport of surfing. Children and adults with physical challenges can now surf in safety at Surf South West via The Wave Project.
The Wave Project’s Adaptive Surfing Lead, Ian Bennett, states, “Traditionally we partnered with Surf South West to run one to ones for various local adaptive surfers. Throughout that time, we always felt our adaptive surfers would benefit more by social surfing. Funding from Active Devon has made this possible. We are proud that Surf South West has now become one of our first Adaptive Surf Centres of Excellence. We also hold our Adaptive Surfing Volunteer Accreditation Courses at the school because the team is so fantastic.”
Ian continues, “Some of the team will also be joining our Adaptive Surfing Roadshow promoting the sport all round the country. Surf South West really has be a driving force behind Adaptive Surfing in recent years. We really are so incredibly grateful for all their support and vision.”
Mel is a wheelchair user that now attends the Wave Project Adaptive Surf sessions. Paralysed from the waist down after a spinal chord injury and in constant pain she explains, “I’ve always loved the water so these sessions are so important to me. They give me freedom because when I’m surfing I can forget all about the pain I’m in.”
Mel continues, “I’m never scared because I have absolute confidence in the team. Besides, I’m having far too much fun to be frightened. Surfing with a group is great, especially as my boyfriend surfs with us as well.” Mel loves the surf sessions so much that she is now a volunteer with the Wave Project. She is not only an important member of the team but a great ambassador for the sport as well.
Community Matters Four: Wave Rangers
Ocean and coastal protection is also another hugely important subject that Surf South West are keen to be involved in. The Wave Rangers Project is an offshoot of the Wave Project where 10-20 year olds are invited to develop there environmental awareness through a variety of projects. They help to tackle climate change by volunteering for local community activities that maintain their local coastal environment. On completion of each project the Wave Rangers are rewarded by a Surf South West surf session! What’s not to love.
John states, “Will and I always believed that surfing was a powerful medium for change. Surfing communities around the world are now breaking down barriers, protecting their environment and changing society for the better. We wanted Surf South West to be at the forefront of those movements. I guess it all goes back to that ethos of being the best that you can possibly. We wanted to excel not only in the sport of surf but to also excel in being just good human beings. We’re really proud of all our community project partners and will continue helping them to make positive differences in many people’s lives.”
If you’d like to find out more about Surf South West and the many community projects that it now supports please drop by to meet the team to find out more. Alternatively, email us on [email protected] or call 01271 890400 during office hours and we’ll be pleased to have a chat and see how we can help you.
Looking forward to sharing a wave with you soon,
The SSW Crew x