Words by Darren Sutton
Our goals at Dive Project Cornwall – Educate, Environment and Experience – align with my own personal beliefs that we need to educate the next generation about the environment and the importance of the oceans. Most of us by now realise the role our forests play as the ‘lungs’ of the Earth, but did you know that our oceans produce half of the world’s oxygen? It is our belief at Dive Project Cornwall that by experiencing the underwater world and immersing yourself in the beautiful, life-rich waters even just a stone’s throw from Cornish shores, this often-unseen environment suddenly becomes tangible. It becomes part of your world, one that you can love, care for, and ultimately, protect.
As a Marine Biologist, I have a huge passion for the oceans and all the life they support, and as with anybody who has a passion for something, I want to share it and pass it onto the next generation. For this reason, I feel extremely privileged to have joined Dive Project Cornwall earlier this year as Head of Diving. Working here in Cornwall to teach 400 children from schools around the UK to scuba dive, with a project like Dive Project Cornwall, there will always be unforeseen challenges to overcome. Since I came on board, I’ve lost count of the lessons I’ve learned, both personally and professionally. Every week brings its own learning curve, its own opportunities for growth, its own need to implement changes. But we have a superb team here at Porthkerris – many of whom are volunteers – and we’re very fortunate to have a raft of incredible and tirelessly supportive sponsors and partners. From PADI and the Marine Conservation Society, to Falmouth Marine School and Porthkerris Dive Centre (to name just a few!), it’s been wonderful to witness everybody coming together in their shared desire to deliver the ambitious goals of the project. And delivering we are! In fact, one school that we only recently hosted has already returned home and set up an environmental group to champion the welfare of our seas. As the adage goes, ‘every little helps’, and if we can inspire a generation of Ocean Influencers to respect, love and cherish the ocean, it is our belief that this will drive the passion that’s so desperately needed to protect it.
When I joined Dive Project Cornwall, I had certain expectations of what the role would entail, and to a point, they were right. But it turned into so much more, and I never could have imagined the lessons I would come to learn, not least just how resilient the children are. They surprise me every day, without fail, and that itself is a pleasure to be a part of. From the pool sessions where they learn fundamental diving skills, to the looks on their faces when they enter the sea and watch their first wrasse swim past; I know that Dive Project Cornwall is giving these children the opportunity to venture into a world they would not otherwise get to experience and, to me, that’s priceless.