At one of our fundraising meetings a few months ago, the fundraising coordinator for guide dogs asked me if i would like to take part in a sponsored surf day being organised by the Derry branch. I said i would give it a go but thought no more about it. Last month things really started to kick off. I emailed the woman who boards guide dogs and she sent me some sponsorship forms.
My grannies brother owns one of the pubs in Ballymena. So when i gave it to my dad he told granny and she got it taken into this pub. Apparently the owner is a bit strange and kind of wouldn’t show his manners too much. Thankfully he was very generous and two weeks later i came back with £179 for guide dogs! I got our branch organiser to send him a thank you letter.
I wasn’t sure who to give our sponsor money to so i emailed the woman who boards guide dogs. She told us that our money could be given through our individual branch, but that the money from the pub quizz that the surf school are running on Saturday (tomorrow night) is going to the derry/Limavady branch. I was going to get the train down to Castle rock and get someone to meet me, but wasn’t sure how that would work because there are no volunteer drivers i don’t think in the derry branch. Luckily our branch organiser wanted to go down for the craic so i came with her.
I decided before i went that i would look up some info about the surfing school. It is at Benone beach just near Castle rock. It is called
Long line surf school
And has only been open since March. They have normal surfboards for able bodied people, as well as
Specially adapted boards for people with disabilities
I thought this was great! All the instructors are all qualified lifeguards so that made me feel better about going. Normally it is 1 instructor to 10 people, but for disabled people it is two instructors to a board.
The branch organiser decided when she was collecting me that she would park up the street a little as Ushi has got to know her car and sits and waits for her to come. In fact on Wednesday she sat and whined because the branch organiser wasn’t there on time! I wasn’t going to take Ushi as i thought that she might not like the fact that i was in the water.
So around half 12, we set off to head down to the beach without Ushi.
When we first arrived, we were introduced to our instructors for the day and taken to get our wetsuits on. Unfortunately it was the full length ones which are really hard to get into. I braught my wellies as i didn’t know that we would get boots with our suits. I needn’t have bothered really.
It took quite a struggle to get into my wetsuit. The branch organiser and my friends mum had to pull a bit until i finally squeezed in. I forgot how tight they could be! I thought i would keep my socks on for the wetsuit boots. Luckily i had another pair of socks with me!
We then walked down to the beach. I met the guys from the derry branch who had come down with their dogs.
One of the instructors then took us out into the sea for us to feel how deep we would be going and to get us used to the waves. We then headed in again to see the boards. The instructors had the board lying on the beach. He let me and my friend feel the handles on the board that we would hold onto, the front of the board which is like the shape of the front of a boat, the tail which is obviously the back of the board, and a fin underneath it which made it easier to go through the water I think. The board was about 10 feet long so that instructors can get on the board too.
We then practiced getting on and off the board. If we lie down flat, we slow down but it is harder to steer. So it is better if we get into what is called the “prone” position which is where you have your arms as if you would be about to do pushups and your legs are straight out behind you. We were then taken into the water and got on the board out there.
I thought it would be quite hard to get on the board there but the instructor who was called Garith held it for me. There was a guy called Ryan on with me too.
They were brilliant with me. They counted to three when there was going to be a wave and told me how big they were. One of the guys even said to me to go “wahoo!” when we hit a wave lol.
When we were catching a wave, we had to put our legs apart slightly. At one point i asked if i was in the right position but the guy thought i was asking about my sister!
I enjoyed it up until the point where a wave nearly had me off the board! We didn’t have life jackets on because they said we would be kept up with our wetsuits and that we would only be in water up to our waists. So i decided to head into the beach again because the wave kind of panicked me.
I was persuaded to go out again and catch a couple more waves. The only problem was that it was freezing then because we had been already out of the water.
My friend said that one of the instructors should do it blind folded so he did! I thought that was brilliant! I thought it was great how well they accepted us. They could have just said no but they adapted boards for people with disabilities. Thank you long line surf school for all your help and craic!
Here’s what their
Said about the day. Here is one of the photos of me.
I’ll also be in the Belfast teligraph! There are more photos on the Long line surf school Facebook page! (Type long line surf school into the search box and click on the first one that comes up).
It was a great day!