News / Op Surf
Thursday 15 September 2016

Wounded former servicemen and women take to the open water

Posted by: Help For Heroes | Categories: General , Sports Recovery

A group of 18 wounded, injured and sick (WIS) servicemen and women is taking part in an adaptive surfing programme at Watergate Bay, Cornwall from 11 – 16 September, run by Help for Heroes, and supported by the Endeavour Fund and Amazing Surf Adventures.

They will be travelling from across the UK for the week-long programme which will provide an environment where individuals work to overcome perceived limitations of their physical and psychological disabilities.

This initiative is to be delivered by Help for Heroes with support from the Endeavour Fund. It will use surfing as a rehabilitation and recovery activity by bringing participants together and exposing them to the healing power of the open water through adaptive surfing taught by world-class instructors. It forms part of Help for Heroes’ extensive Sports Recovery programme.

There will also be opportunities for participants to further advance their individual experience with workshops about employment and life after the military. 

Jonpaul Nevin, Lead Strength & Conditioning Coach at Help for Heroes said: “Op Surf UK is a development of the Op Surf programme which has been running in the USA for the past six years. Over this time, hundreds of British and American Wounded, Injured and Sick (WIS) service personnel have experienced the healing power of the ocean through surfing. To finally bring the programme over to the UK together with some best surf instructors from both sides of the Atlantic represents a truly awesome opportunity for even more British WIS to use surfing as part of their long term rehabilitation/recovery.”

David Wiseman, Head of Armed Forces Programmes at the Endeavour Fund said: “I was lucky enough to take part in an OpSurf week in the US a couple of years and can confirm just what an incredibly positive impact surfing can have on the well-being of wounded, injured and sick Service personnel and veterans. I was inspired by this experience and I’m thrilled that we’ve worked with Help For Heroes to bring this to the UK; giving others the chance to experience the rush of catching their first wave and further advance their experience with workshops about employment and life after the military. It’s going to be a great week!”

Surfing has been demonstrated to significantly enhance physiological and psychological wellbeing. As such, Op Surf UK aims to provide a week-long, all-inclusive, surfing camp intended to aid the long term rehabilitation and recovery of UK WIS service personal and veterans.

Professional adaptive surf instructors will work with the wounded military for the week of surfing, including big-wave surfer Andrew Cotton. With numerous Billabong XXL entries he is best known for towing the American surfer Garrett McNamara into what the Guinness Book of World Records confirmed as the biggest wave ever surfed in 2012.

Op SURF UK aims to build on the lessons learnt by wounded, injured and sick Service personnel and veterans (WIS) through their attendance on the Op SURF courses in the USA, delivered by Amazing Surf Adventures over the past few years. Many of the WIS who took part described the incredibly positive impact on their well-being and many have continued their love of surfing upon returning to the UK. 

Five staff members from global insurer American International Group, Inc. (AIG) are also taking part and volunteering on the Op SURF UK programme. As Lead Corporate Partner and exclusive insurance partner of the Endeavour Fund, AIG is proud of its employee’s commitment and delighted to offer staff this unique opportunity and experience supporting our Veterans.

The Endeavour Fund is a programme managed by The Royal Foundation of The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry.  It supports wounded, injured and sick Service Personnel and Veterans using sport and adventurous challenges as part of their recovery and rehabilitation. The fund plays an important role in ensuring that more Servicemen and women have the opportunity to rediscover their self-belief and fighting spirit through physical challenges. AIG, the global insurance company, last year signed up as the lead corporate partner of the Endeavour Fund for the next three years.

Photo credit: Mark Dawson, Op Surf photographer and H4H Band of Brother