A team from scuba-diving rehabilitation charity Deptherapy has completed what it describes as its biggest and most successful training programme to date, involving 14 armed forces veterans with mental and/or physical injuries sustained in service.
Update: DEPTHERAPY TO CLOSE IN 2023
Over a week at Roots Red Sea in El Quseir, Egypt, six programme-members qualified as PADI Open Water Divers, with all but one going on to complete the Advanced OWD course. A further five completed their PADI AOWD and Deep Speciality, and all 11 completed nitrox courses and a night dive.
The other three veterans took part as Instructors and Divemasters, including Chris Middleton, who lost both legs in Afghanistan. Currently a Divemaster, his aim is to become the first double-amputee PADI Instructor.
Four-fifths of programme-members suffer from acute Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and can be considered “hard to reach”, says Deptherapy, which has set up a Buddy Peer Support system for them.
It said that one member had disclosed during the trip that he had not previously left the house for six years; another that the event was the first time since his diagnosis that he had been able to talk about what had happened to him.
“If you had asked me just over a year ago if I would be helping to teach fellow-veterans to scuba-dive I would have laughed,” said Andy Searle, a bilateral amputee and already-qualified diver who assisted with the training. “Last week I had that opportunity. How does that feel? I’m not sure I can answer that as my emotions run so high.
“I have been supported in and out of the water by the Deptherapy team, who have changed my life. To help others, my injured brothers in arms, is just the greatest honour.”
Chris Ganley, formerly of the 1st Battalion The Rifles, lost an arm in a motorcycle accident and qualified as an OWD and AOWD at Roots. “It has been an incredible experience – diving is like entering another world. An exceptional experience that will stay with me for my life. The support the team give you is beyond description. Deptherapy say they are a family; I am now a part of that family.”
Deptherapy’s next training programme in June will take 12 members on a Red Sea liveaboard. More about the chariry can be found here