One of the most enjoyable aspects of my job at the Sport and Recreation Alliance is our interaction with many different sports and activities, and I’m fortunate to work with a vast array of their governing bodies. Having worked with the British Sub-Aqua Club (BSAC) for the past few years, I was delighted when Mary Tetley, (their CEO and all-round hidden gem of the sport and recreation sector) invited me to a trade show for sub-aqua. The opportunity to learn more about the sport that to many people is seen as the reserve of spy films and exotic holidays was too good to miss.
With this in mind, I was more than a little surprised by the swathes of beaming and excitable groups of women waiting outside London Olympia on the morning of the show! This was a very different demographic to what I had been expecting. However, I quickly realised that the National Wedding Show was not my intended location. Nestled between the shrieks of the betrothed and the similarly hysterical fans attending the Doctor Who exhibition, I went from surprised to amazed by the scale and range of The Big Scuba Show.
Before meeting with Mary and Claire Peddie (BSAC Chair and marine biologist) I took the opportunity to have a sneak-peak around the show and it became apparent that this was not your run-of-the-mill trade show. The show mixed technical and equipment based elements with informal features, such as demonstrations of the graffiti-style ‘tagging’, which is used to mark locations of a diver’s first dive. There was also the opportunity to listen to expert divers’ experiences and advice, information on finding a club and even the chance to have a dive in BSAC’s purpose-built pool.
Over the weekend the BSAC also held their conference, as well as providing 700 divers with advanced diver training. There are 1,200 clubs nationwide and BSAC, as the national governing body, aims to make sure the fun and relaxed atmosphere of this understated community is experienced by as many people as possible.
For the thousands of individuals who attended during the weekend, The Big Scuba Show will have been their first experience of the sport and it was great to see how many were asking how to get involved. One of the key attractions to sub-aqua is that it’s an affordable activity for the whole family. Indeed, there was no shortage of BSAC volunteers, staff or enthusiasts on hand to enthuse about the life-time of opportunities the sport offers, from swimming pools in Croydon to the magnificence of the Great Barrier Reef. I am confident that many of these initial enquiries will be followed up and that the sport of sub-aqua will continue to thrive.
Thanks to Claire, Mary, Wendy, Debbie, John, Graham, Tony and everyone else for a great introduction to your sport and I hope I’ve done it some justice.
Business and Membership Development Officer at the Sport and Recreation Alliance