24 February 2014
Stuart Spooner, Group Health, Safety and Security Director took time out of his busy schedule recently to ‘hit the waves’ at a residential surf event put on by the charity Surf Action in Bude, Cornwall.
An award winning and pioneering project, Surf Action use surfing and the coastal environment as a tool to help veterans and their families deal with the ongoing problems of post traumatic stress disorder and physical injuries, something that is very close to Stuart’s heart as an ex-serving soldier and fanatical surfer himself.
Founded by Gulf War veteran Rich Emerson, an inspirational surfer himself, Surf Action has been established in Cornwall since 2009 and is now a registered Charity that you may have seen on the National Lottery show with Chris Evans on the 24th October 2013.
The day started with introductions, meeting new faces, the usual light banter to get the smiles going on the cold winter’s morning, followed by a group photo. It was then time to brave the chilly waters and ride the waves.
Stuart reported: ‘Conditions could only be described as challenging, it was a solid 10 to 12 feet on the face of the waves with some bigger ones sneaking through, even for the very experienced amongst us, it was pretty full on. We are seeing some of the biggest conditions ever recorded in the UK right now, but what a ride’.
He added: ‘I felt very honoured to have been asked to be part of this event. The level of trust needed by those you take out into the surf is huge, these things take time to build up, even more so in the current sea conditions. One of the participants couldn’t right himself in the water, so if he fell off, technically he would drown until we could get to him. I couldn’t imagine the trust he shows in us, and all for a perfect wave’.
After a long cold session it was time to head in and reward all the groups’ hard efforts with a bite to eat provided by the generosity of a local restaurant.
Stuart commented on the day experiences: ‘Today WYG have given me the most valuable thing I am able to give, time. At Surf Action we have seen people smile for the first time in many months, if not years, and be free from the dark places they can be in. It can be a truly magical thing. Every surfer remembers their first wave and the feeling that gives, being able to give that to others, see them light up from the achievement and be a part of these very personal moments is all the thanks I will ever need’.
He added: ‘The sea is a great leveller, it doesn’t matter who you are or what you do for a living, we all need the same focus and commitment in the water. This is why it is ideal for those involved in Surf Action. These guys, girls and their families have been to hell and back, some haven’t made the return trip fully yet but we’re helping’.
Find out more about Surf Action here.