A Huddersfield diving club has made a splash to celebrate its 60th year in the waters.
Chloe Glover joined the town’s Sub Aqua Club, BSAC 18, at one of their training sessions in Huddersfield Leisure Centre, to find out what has kept the club afloat, despite dips in membership due to the recession.
Situated at least 70 miles from the sea, Huddersfield may not be the most obvious place to don a pair of fins and an air tank.
But that has not stopped leagues of intrepid residents and even young guiding and scouting groups, who have joined the Huddersfield Sub Aqua Club to begin their discovery of a whole new underwater world.
Jack Willards and John Lawton formed the club, now one of many British Sub Aqua Clubs around the country, at Ramsden Street Baths in 1955 with 35 other people.
Their aim was to promote ‘underwater exploration, science and sport’ and to promote safety while partaking in it.
Now on the eve of it’s diamond anniversary, the club has 55 members from 14 to 67, who gain their swimming wings at the pool before taking part in their first outdoor adventure.
Long-time member and now diving officer, Matt Corder, is one of those who voluntarily shows new members the ropes, who have to complete around five pool sessions before they can swim in open waters.
He said: “Although may some people may find it surprising, Yorkshire has a lot of divers.
“Personally, I just like the freedom it gives you and how you can just put on your kit, get into the water and begin to explore where not many others have.
“To get to do it as part of a club is great because you get to share experiences and it’s an opportunity to travel to lots of different places.”
Through the club, getting involved in diving proved not to be as testing a feat as I initially thought it could have been.
Handing me a pair of flippers, a belt weight, a mask and oxygen pack and encouraging me to take the plunge, it was not long before I was happily swimming along the pool floor.
Getting used to breathing solely through my mouth and not nose was a surprisingly easy switch and, following Matt’s lead, I began to learn how to regulate both the air pack’s levels and my own breathing to move higher and lower.
After completing the pool sessions new divers are then taken by Matt and the team to safe quarries used by divers, such as Carpenwray in Carnforth and Delph in Ecclestone, Lancashire.
Obviously, the most excitement comes from travelling to coasts near and far-a hobby that has become more popular over the years due to the increased number of affordable flights and other travel.
But although Matt and other club officers, Ray Dawson and Jill Bardsmith are amongst the members who have travelled to the warm seas of Cape Verde Malta and the Maldives, the dive spots that remain closest to their hearts are in the rather more icy waters of the UK.
While Matt loves the Hebridean island of Canna due to its crystal clear seas, Jill and Ray,’s fondest memories come from trips to the Scapa Flow in the Orkney Islands.
Jill said: “It’s an incredible wreck site and I’ve learnt a lot through going.
“But it’s also a fantastic place to get up close to sealife-the seals are great because they’re so inquisitive and act just like dogs, although they do try to get a bit amorous at times.”
Armed with his camera, Ray has taken hundreds of fascinating pictures of sea creatures hidden to most people who frequent coastal areas.
They are joined on outings by their members, who pay a yearly subscription to the club.
And happily for the team, more and more people are now joining the club, whose membership halved at the beginning of the recession.
Ray, who is looking forward to the opportunities for the club in 2015, said: “Luckily the club is now on the up and people of all ages are coming to us to learn, which is great news to coincide with our 60th anniversary party in March.
“We’re now hopeful that we will also be able to move to the new leisure centre at Spring Grove next Spring and are looking forward to exploring the World War Two Normandy wrecks and the Red Sea.”
Members past and present have been invited to celebrate the club’s anniversary, which will take place at Cedar Court Hotel on March 14 at 7pm.
Tickets, which cost £30, are available from Jill, who can be contacted on 01484 963125 or firstname.lastname@example.org.