A scuba diving pig farmer and her adventurous daughter have proved ‘This Girl Can’ after helping nearly 70 women and girls take part in the UK’s biggest all-female charity try-dive.
Fiona Lucas from Lincoln was part of a team of diving instructors to lead the scuba and snorkel taster event, organised by British Sub-Aqua Club (BSAC) clubs across the East Midlands.
The BSAC Dive Leader and daughter Grace, 16, are both members of their local BSAC club, Lincoln & District 109 and supporters of the ‘This Girl Can’ campaign to get more women and girls into sport.
They joined instructors from across the region including hosts Bingham Sub-Aqua Club, to help a total of 69 try-divers take the plunge at Bingham Leisure Centre.
The event also raised more than £500 for Breast Cancer Care, a charity close to Fiona’s heart as five of her relatives have battled the disease.
Fiona, said: “It was excellent fun.
“I had a lady from Ireland who nearly didn’t dive. She walked into pool area and said ‘I’m not doing this’ but she did and when she’d finished she was absolutely bursting with pride that she’d achieved what she had set out to do.
“To see someone’s face so excited after she’d been so nervous to begin with was incredible. It summed up the whole day.
“Everyone thoroughly enjoyed it. We had a group of girl guides and I had to instruct a young girl of 13 who was absolutely brilliant. When you see a girl aged just 13 enjoying themselves in a fun and safe environment while also raising money for charity it’s incredible.
“I’m so proud of the whole team and the amount of people who gave up their time to organise the event beforehand and on the day itself. It was very empowering.”
Fiona, 47, only learnt to dive three years ago with the aim of ticking it off her “bucket list” of things to achieve in her lifetime – and now three years on she’s a qualified Dive Leader.
She was joined on Sunday by her daughter Grace, who took the underwater photography at the event, held at Bingham Leisure Centre where the club trains once a week.
Grace, a qualified Ocean Diver and sixth form pupil at Wiliam Farr secondary school in Welton, said: “It was really good fun and very busy. This time last year I didn’t have any diving qualifications but this year I was able to take all the photos.
“There were lots of younger girls there who were very nervous to start off with but we had a torpedo toy sponge which we’d throw into the water to encourage them to dive to the bottom and this would distract them from what they were doing and build their confidence.”
The event, which involved a series of 30-minute introductory sessions led by female-only instructors, attracted women and girls of all ages to try out the sport. Organisers are now hopeful many of those who turned out will sign up for scuba diving lessons.
Ella Greatorex was the youngest to take part in the event aged just 12.
The youngster, from East Leake, near Loughborough, suffers from bilateral cerebral palsy which leaves her with significant motor disabilities and she spends several hours each day undergoing physiotherapy but she was not about to let her condition stop her.
The East Leake Academy pupil, who is already a member of the Bingham Penguins Disability Swimming Club said: “I really enjoy swimming because it makes me feel free and I don’t have to use my wheelchair or walking frame.
“I like putting my head under the water so I thought it would be good to have a go at the try-dive.
“It was a totally amazing experience and everybody should try it.”
Helena Robertshaw, Diving Officer at Bingham SAC which hosted the event, said: “It’s been really great and we’ve had some very happy people who didn’t think they would be able to do something like this.
“There was a real mixture of ages and the atmosphere in the pool was absolutely amazing. We definitely have lots of people wanting to sign up.”
The event involved a series of introductory sessions led by ten female instructors including Fiona. It highlighted the positive health benefits of scuba diving for women and the increased confidence the sport gave through learning new skills.
As the governing body for scuba and snorkelling in the UK, BSAC represents more than 30,000 divers and 900 plus family friendly and sociable clubs, run by volunteers, up and down the country and abroad.
Mary Tetley, BSAC Chief Executive, said: “We are immensely proud of the achievements of the girls and women who took part in this charity event and look forward to welcoming many of them into our clubs in the future.
“Scuba diving is a fantastic sport that it can be enjoyed by a wide range of people, of all different backgrounds and ages, and we are always keen to look at ways of boosting the numbers of women in the sport.
“It’s important to us that BSAC is as diverse an organisation as possible. We have women from grassroots right up to senior positions on our committee and the contribution they give is invaluable.”