The Inspirational Diving Journey of PADI Professional Jamie Hull

Written by PADI Regional Manager, Neil Richards

Many people have found hope for their future through their journey of becoming a PADI Professional. We all have had different life experiences and come from different cultures which impact on these experiences. However, we can all testify to diving’s healing power even when nothing else works. This is the structure of PADI’s ethos with one of PADI’s Pillars of Change being ‘Healing + Wellness’. The Healing + Wellness pillar focuses on highlighting how individuals can reach their goals and aspirations when triumphing over adversity, illness or hardships. We have all decided to become PADI Professionals but each of our journeys were different. For some the journey was relatively easy and straightforward, whereas for others it was difficult and full of challenges. Someone who experienced a more challenging journey was Jamie Hull, a former UK Special Forces Reserve.

Jamie Hull- PADI Professional

I recently had the pleasure of sharing time with Jamie, one the most inspirational human beings, who has had to overcome huge adversities, challenges and roadblocks to reach his goal of becoming a PADI Instructor. His extraordinary courage, drive and passion came about after a life changing plane crash which left him with third degree burns on over half of his body. Jamie has had to rebuild his life after several years of hospital treatment, skin grafts and countless operations. He is currently applying for his PADI Course Director rating, committed to teaching divers who are also experiencing challenges. He hopes to help these divers overcome their physical and mental hurdles to become PADI Instructors, just like he did.

Back in October, PADI staff conducted a PADI Adaptive Techniques Instructor course in Thailand, which Jamie joined. Jamie was asked to share his experience with the group of PADI Course Directors. He was able to help everyone understand the type of compassion, empathy and patience that is required to teach the course.

We have asked Jamie a few questions so that you, as a PADI Professional, might also adapt the way you teach your various diving courses when you feel needed.

How did diving affect your recovery?

 Following a 60 percent third-degree burns injury in 2007, my skin was far too damaged to contemplate going back into open water as a diver, let alone to teach others again. I was terrified that the salt water would have a further damaging effect upon my skin, so I naturally avoided taking any such risk. In fact, it would be five long years of recovery and rehabilitation before I entertained the idea of giving it another go. I felt like I had lost all my former confidence to dive again, so it took a lot of courage for me to don a wetsuit and full scuba kit and take that big giant-stride off the back of a Liveaboard in the Red Sea. However, to my absolute joy and astonishment I quickly realised that my skills remained in-tact and, moreover the salt water soon became my saviour: it helped to accelerate my physiological and skin-cellular healing in ways that I had never imagined. The quality of my skin soon began to improve with every subsequent dive, exhibiting less dryness immediately.  Any tender areas of my skin were soon rewarded with stronger integrity and steadily began to feel more dexterous, and supple. On a psychological level, this was all the evidence I needed.  Through diving, I began to feel more confident in myself and it definitely improved my self-esteem following injury.

What does diving give you that other sports do not?

There is something entirely different about scuba diving regarding the effect that is has on my whole being. For starters, I find a tremendous sense of peace and tranquillity from diving in the ocean: just to experience the unique and unequivocal sensation of breathing underwater helps me to feel somewhat more relaxed every time I make the descent. I feel it can be greatly therapeutic in helping to cleanse the mind of stress. For me, it could be described as spiritual, whereby the ocean helps me feel at peace and at one with the world.

What are your future plans in diving?

 Diving with PADI has actually been a focus and passion of mine from an early age, having initially tried it as a young backpacker on the Great Barrier Reef, Australia.  I knew then, that I wanted to maintain an interest in diving for the rest of my life.  Following the injury, and with regard to the benefits that I experienced first-hand from diving, I then decided that I wanted to develop myself further as an Instructor.  My personal goal now is to become a PADI Course Director, as I have an underlying wish to be involved with and help others to achieve professional diver ratings within the industry.  Specifically, I would like to work with other wounded service personnel and people with physical or psychological disabilities, in order to help them achieve as diving professionals and experience the benefits of working within the diving industry as I have been able to.

What can others learn from what has happened to you?

By sharing my own story and testimonial, my hope is that people who have sustained injuries, or perhaps acquired disabilities in life, may feel inspired to give diving a go – by realising how accessible and inclusive a sport it really can be. Others can learn by embracing the challenge, by following a safe and structured approach to learning, utilising adaptive techniques, in order to achieve the required standards to become divers themselves. For some – as was certainly the case for me – they may well require a little more time to practice skills and learn techniques that will best suit them as individuals. For in my personal experience, as someone that sustained severe muscle loss and nerve damage to both lower limbs, but was still able to continue diving, what I do know is this, ‘Where there’s a will, there’s a way’. So for others, that may be considering the sport, although perhaps unsure whether it’s possible for them due to injury or disability, they might just be pleasantly surprised what the sport of diving can do for them. Many can therefore choose to embrace diving in their lives and experience the remarkable healing benefits of the ocean environment.

We can all learn from Jamie’s story; ‘when the going gets tough, the tough get going’. Part of what we do as PADI Instructors is help people realise their dreams and then we help them achieve them. With perseverance and determination, goals can be achieved and new compelling stories can be born.

For more information on the PADI Adaptive Techniques Specialty course or the PADI Adaptive Support Diver course contact your PADI Regional Training Consultant.

 

How the Closure of One Island Made a Whole Country Start Working Towards a Greener Future

By Conny Jeppson, PADI Regional Manager Philippines

In April this year, the government of the Philippines decided that they were closing one of their most visited islands, Boracay, for 6 months. The decision was made to allow time for infrastructure to improve and most importantly, to develop a new and more efficient waste water treatment.

Boracay-Beach-White Sand- Philippines
 

With more than 2 million visitors a year, many never thought the closure would actually be possible. Coincidentally, when the closure was enforced many of the world’s eyes turned to the Philippines, some in astonishment, but many looking to the Philippines to be an Eco-leader and example for the future. Even though the financial impact for most was more than could be endured, nearly all operators on the island stood behind the rehabilitation. Operators believed that the action taken would preserve the island and ensure it remained a paradise for future generations to come.

What’s even more interesting is the ripple effect that the closure has had on the community across the country and in some ways, its neighbouring countries. Suddenly and in most parts of the country, local businesses, municipalities and individuals quickly started to also improve the overall condition of their homes and businesses. A good example of this is Malapascua Island where most PADI Dive Centres and Resorts have joined forces by starting to sell refillable aluminium water bottles branded with their own logo. Not only is this a great initiative, but customers can also present their water bottle in affiliated stores and in return, can refill their water bottles for free.

Many resorts and dive centres on the island have also switched to better alternatives when it comes to the use of plastic. Plastic straws are now hard to find as reusable items and non-plastic solutions have become readily available to the community. Evolution, a PADI 5 star resort in Malapascua, have taken this initiative even further with one of their owners, Matt Reed. They have invested in a plastic recycling machine from planet positive products. Matt and the Evolution team have not only envisioned this machine to be used for their dive resort, but they also hope that it can be used for bigger parts of the island.

Malapascua Island- Phillippines- Beach- Ocean

El Nido in Palawan Island is another fantastic example of a community being in the forefront to protect the environment. The local government have banned the use of single use plastic such as plastic bags and plastic straws.  The local government have also worked hard to reclaim the local beach by introducing local laws to benefit both the local community and tourists alike.

El Nido- Palawan-Philippines-Beach

The above examples are only a handful of how the Philippines community are joining forces to improve our overall environment. There are many more PADI Dive Centres and Resorts, PADI Instructors and PADI Divemasters working hard to protect, educate and promote a more environmental way of living.

PADI Regional Managers get to experience some great environmental initiatives all around their region. If you are looking to make environmental improvements at your PADI Dive Centre or Resort, contact your PADI Regional Manager to discuss ideas, implementation and support.

A Force for Good: the Reachers and Teachers

The planet’s environmental health is the biggest challenge humanity has ever faced. Looking at the innovation, initiatives and social ground swell happening on all fronts, we know we can rise to the challenge through dedication, focus, tenacity and importantly, by working on hearts and minds as well as preservation and restoration. Involving kids – the coming generations who will inherit the Earth – is crucial for our future. Global conservation is making great strides, but a sustainable future demand that it becomes an ongoing mindset that expands and gets passed on.

And, it’s happening, thanks to divers who reach and teach youngsters to share a passion that goes beyond diving to protecting and restoring the underwater world. In Tahiti, the Moorea Coral Gardeners – a growing team of youngsters (and some not-so-youngsters) – freedives to replant coral to reverse damage to Moorea, Tahiti’s incredible reefs (still awesome, by the way). But, they go further, educating local youth about why all the world’s coral reefs are environmentally and economically important, and need preservation. The Gardeners started as a local youth coral restoration project and now, through social media, they touch lives everywhere with an age-spanning team of international professional athletes, actors, and media stars.

The U.S.-based Kids Sea Camp, founded by PADI Instructor Margo Peyton, involves youngsters starting at age 4 (snorkeling) at some of diving’s best and most popular south Pacific and Caribbean destinations. In Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, at Kids Scuba Syed Abd Rahman is on a parallel mission, bringing new talent into diving’s ranks by uniting ocean and coral conservation with diver training. Both groups introduce youth to wonderous, eye-opening underwater adventures while embracing diving’s higher purpose as the underwater world’s ambassadors and protectors. Still other divers reach kids wherever they are; in Koh Tao, Guy Corsellis talks with kids at the Koh Tao International Primary School about marine life, how it behaves, why it’s important and how to be kind to the environment.

There are many examples like these, and there need to be more because through involvement, engagement and example, young divers learn that the ocean and coral reefs are not just awesome, but threatened. They learn why and, most importantly, what we can all do about it – and we’re talking about more than coral. Showing our youth the underwater world and coral reefs is the best place to start in building a global culture that lives harmoniously with the global environment. People who experience coral reefs come to care about them quickly – and because these are the world’s environmental barometers, it’s often where we see subtle changes first. People focused in preserving this fragile environment will take on the bigger environmental issues because almost all of them ultimately affect the coral reefs. In other words, to preserve and restore the coral, we really have to preserve and restore the world environment.

Let’s applaud the reachers and teachers who motivate young people to embrace the underwater world, but I challenge all of us to also be one of them. Share your diving experiences with the kids in your life – at schools, youth centers, clubs, neighborhood, home — anywhere you cross paths. Explain why the oceans, reefs and the creatures living there are special and important, and how choices like reusing and recycling make a difference. Offer to introduce them to a dive instructor if you’re not one yet, or teach them to dive if you are.

Then, watch their eyes light up when they see, hear and feel what you and I have come to love so much. It’s one of the most rewarding ways to contribute to a better future.

Dr. Drew Richardson
PADI President & CEO

 

PADI’s Pillars of Change- A Force for Good in Koh Tao, Thailand

Written by PADI Territory Director Tim Hunt 

At  PADI  we  are  committed  to  supporting  social  and  environmental  efforts  through  PADI’s Pillars of Change. It  is  something  you’ve  heard  us  talk  about  during  our  member  forums,  general updates  and Social  Media  channels  –  but  we  are  also  putting  these words  into  action.  Around  the  globe  our  field  staff  are  spreading  the  message  to  members  and  to  potential  PADI  divers,  as  our  community  continues  to  grow.  Here  is  a  quick  look  at  the  efforts  of  Regional  Manager  Neil  Richards  and  Regional  Training  Consultant  Guy  Corsellis,  who  are  both based  in  Koh  Tao,  Thailand.

1

Marine Animal Protection  –  As  we all  know  a  healthy  ocean  is  vital  to  humanity. Therefore, PADI is taking steps to help divers become part of a positive solution to help impact and change our oceans. Guy and his son Iggy (PADI Divemaster Candidate) took this powerful message to the children from schools in their region, Koh Tao’s International Primary School and a local Thai Public School. After giving presentations to these children about the behavior of marine animals in their local underwater habitat, they were also able to provide some eco-friendly tips. By teaching and educating the children on how important our oceans, including the species within it, they will learn and help spread our message from an early age. We hope that as the future generation, they can influence change for generations to come.

2

Ocean Health  – With over 200,000 identified species in the oceans and millions more to discover, protecting our marine life biodiversity is critical. PADI works closely with organisations that strive to help and protect our oceans in a multitude of ways.  As our key partner in the environment for 25 years, Project AWARE  is one such organisation that is committed to keeping the natural balance in our aquatic world.  Project AWARE’s Community Conservation Officer, Jack Fishman, visited  Thailand to spread the word on Project AWARE’s Dive Against Debris Specialty Course, helping PADI dive centres engage with their community and tackle marine debris head on. He gave valuable insight into the role scuba divers play in highlighting the extent of the marine debris problem. The Project AWARE Shark Conservation Specialty Course was also taught to a large number of divers. PADI continues to support the education of our community into the importance of sharks and keeping marine ecosystems in equilibrium.

3

Healing and Wellness  – Becoming a diver is a life changing experience for a lot of people. It can drive career changes and provide transformations both mentally and physically. PADI’s Adaptive Techniques Specialty Course is a great example of this. It is a fantastic way for people to overcome adversity, illness or disability. Neil Richards and Guy Corsellis taught the specialty to the PADI Course Directors on Koh Tao to get them all motivated to support the transformation this speciality can bring. In a truly inspiring session, the PADI Course Directors showed great camaraderie as they worked together to develop different techniques to teaching. A course that was a real opener to some seasoned PADI professionals, will now become crucial to not only providing new divers the ability to fulfill their dreams, but also to inspire others along the way.

4

People + Community  – Very few people give more to a community than its emergency teams, ready  to help in an instant and putting others needs ahead of their own. Neil and Guy decided to give a little back when they took some of the nurses from Koh Tao’s newly opened hospital out for some fun under the water, as part of PADI Women’s Dive Day. The six nurses were introduced to a whole new world during a PADI Discover Scuba Diving Introductory Experience. By supporting the training of local people to foster sustainability, PADI continues to educate and support local communities to cultivate the protection mindset necessary for ocean health and marine animal protection.

 

For more information about the PADI Pillars of Change, please visit our website here.

#PADI4Change