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Ground Swell Making Waves for Positive Change

Tuesday, 20 March 2018

For those who haven’t yet come across Ground Swell, it was started in 2009 as a not-for profit youth project based in Newquay. We caught up with Pete Hughes from Ground Swell a long serving and invaluable supporter of the UK Pro Surf Tour to tell us more about the great work they are doing.

So, what is Ground Swell?
We offer a range of surfing related opportunities and activities. Participants range between 13 and 24 years old with the majority of participants between 15 and 21. We rely heavily on fundraising, grants, surfing companies and the surfing community so we can keep what we offer either free or as cheap as possible. We also encourage an ethos of ‘giving back to others’ by anyone who has benefitted from the project. Without the many past participants who voluntarily offer their time we couldn’t exist. The bulk of our programme ideas come from the surfers themselves so if you’ve got an idea give us a shout and we can try to help make it happen.

How is Ground Swell involved with the UK Pro Surf Tour?
We’ve been involved with the tour for a number of years now. Dave Reed and the crew have been brilliant with us, being very supportive and enabling us to offer a range of unique opportunities to participants. I suppose the main link people are aware of are the trips taking young surfers up and down the country to the tour events. Over the years we’ve run trips within the South West, Wales, the North East and the bum numbing run up to Thurso every October. For some surfers these are the first road trips away without parents so they are as much about developing independent travelling skills as the actual surfing itself. Perhaps less well known is that Ground Swell also offer courses, work experience and networking opportunities that help participants find work in the surf industry. Through working with the tour participants have been involved in media production, helped out with safety cover and generally got involved with the range of roles needed to put the tour on. Although we can’t claim that being part of this joint working partnership is the only reason young surfers have successfully progressed in their surfing careers, feedback suggests its definitely played a positive part in their journey.

What plans do you have for 2018?
We’ve had a relatively quiet couple of years, but 2018 is looking very exciting. We’ve recently been able to put a number of volunteers through their beach lifeguard and surf coach qualifications and with support from a successful lottery bid we will be rolling out some other courses and opportunities this year. These will include tasters in event management, video and photography, social media, marketing and PR and web design. These activities are all surf related, providing transferable skills and will include an opportunity to put them into practice, great for building a cv. We will be supporting young surfers to compete on the Uk Pro Surf Tour again, and for those not competing a chance to also get involved. Although we’re not allowed to share information just yet, we are on the verge of announcing a new project which will aim to support unemployed young people into work with a leaning to surfing and the surf industry. Its shaping up to be a great year.

Which UK Pro Surf Tour surfers have been involved in the project in previous years?
Oh! This is a hard question to answer, as there are always people who will be left off the list. With apologies to those I’ve missed out, readers will have heard of some of the current crop of surf magazine page fillers such as Luke Dillon, Harry Timson, Harry de Roth, Miles Le Hargraves, Angus Scotney, Liam Murray Strout and Portugal based Aaron Strong, who we always used to pick up at a service station on route to somewhere. Female riders such as Emily Currie, Tassy Swallow, Georgie Timson and current UK Pro Surf Tour Women’s Champion Lucy Cambell have all been part of the journey. Equally important examples to mention are the likes of Rhys John, Aaron Evans and Josh Hughes who completed a fundraising bike ride across France for us, or Jack Hughes who is currently organising a youth exchange between Fuertaventura and Cornwall and one of my favourite success stories, Rachel O’Brien, who after joining the project as a participant a few years ago is now living the dream teaching surfing in Sri Lanka. So many people to mention but too little space!

How can surfers get in touch or find out more about Ground Swell?
The best option is to give us a shout on facebook @groundswellcic or the guys at UKPSA will always pass on messages. Failing that come and say hi at any of the UK Pro Surf Tour events this year. I would say you’ll recognise us by the scruffy blue minibus, but that has sadly died recently, so if anyone out there has a minibus we could borrow please hola!

Surf Snowdonia – Thurso Road trip with Ground Swell

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