How did you get into scuba diving?
I've been diving for 14 years, I'm a member of the British Sub-Aqua Club and instruct at my local club branch. We used to holiday on the Isles of Scilly and during our final family outing, when I was aged 18, I decided to take the sub-aqua plunge. After university I was looking for things to do and found out about marine surveys. Scuba diving can be dangerous but statistically golf is more so, while more people in Australia are killed by ostriches than sharks.
What does it involve?
Every Thursday evening I'm at the local swimming pool doing an hour of theory then an hour of making bubbles. At weekends I'm often in Peterborough diving, while instructing involves teaching theory, the physics of diving and safety. I've dived in waters of the Caribbean, Egypt, Tanzania and Australia, the Great Barrier Reef. I love exploring admiralty fleet wrecks off the coast of Cornwall, but the only treasure I've ever found is fairground-ride tokens in the water underneath Brighton Pier.
Why do you do it?
Diving is exhilarating. Once you've jumped in, you are completely removed from all of life's worries above water. You can think of nothing else but swimming, breathing and taking in the marine environment.
What’s the toughest thing about it?
It can become all consuming; once you're hooked, every time you look at water that's new to you you are wondering, 'what's it like underneath?'.
What’s the most rewarding thing about it?
Instructing people and seeing the joy it brings. I recently took charge of a newbie diver and it was the first time she had ever seen a seal underwater.
Are there any similarities between your day job as a planner and scuba diving?
My role in community planning is about people and communication. You can't talk under water but teamwork and communication are critical. Diving also requires lots of preparation and thought and that is also true of working with community groups and in planning. Finally, we have a saying: 'plan the dive, and dive the plan': which means do what you've planned and try not to stray – very sound advice in a planning environment.
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