On leaving the Army in 1996, somewhere around the end of July, I had taken my resettlement, Army preparation for a life back in civvy street, at Fort Bovisand, doing a cross-over course from my British Sub Aqua Club (BSAC) Advanced Instructor status, to a Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI) “Open Water Instructor” level, the first level of “professional” diver training qualification. I had decided the only real way to be able to keep diving, not the cheapest of sports or hobbies, and support a family, was to keep things cost neutral or at least to minimise the expense…..So I bought out a local instructors stock, added 4 brand new sets of Kit, negotiated the hire of Fenton Manor Leisure Centre Class-rooms and pool and placed an advert in the Stoke Sentinel……. Deep Blue Diving was born
The easy part was coming up with a name, my then girlfriend (now wife of 23 years) Ellie came up with Deep Blue Diving quite quickly, I loved it, a quick check with companies house proved the name was not in use or owned and we were away! The logo was another matter, I talked it through in the local pub with a mate, Dave, who was a whizz at graphic design, after some too and fro-ing, a couple of weeks later everything was sorted……
I had a reporter from the local paper come up to cover a pool session carrying out try dives for friends and we put our first advert for an open water course in the Stoke Sentinel and that was it, Deep Blue Diving was starting to take shape…….
I have to say I was nervous teaching my first “commercial” dive course, I had a great grounding in teaching diving to BSAC trainees…….but these would be paying divers……. with high expectations. Although the HSE had yet to make their mark on PADI diver training, my background was from a “duty of care” military perspective, could I strike a “civvy” balance……..
Was there even a market for diver training in Stoke on Trent, I wasn’t selling dive kit, I didn’t want a dive shop, I wasn’t even sure enough people would see the advert and sign up for a course to make it worthwhile, after all, Fenton was an expensive pool to hire and the class-rooms were extra too…..
Surprisingly, the first Open Water Diver course went without a hitch, we had 4 keen recruits and over the next 5 weekends, every Sunday, we went through the class-room content and then into the pool to do the practical training and skill-sessions
All 4 of the trainees did well, the 6th weekend we spent 2 days at Stoney Cove, a place I already knew very well, taking the leap into Stoney Cove, quite literally, something every one of the trainees took to very well….It seemed Deep Blue Diving might just be a success………
The early days of training were at Stoney Cove before it was quite the facility it is now, before the Dive Centre with it’s on-site swimming pool and before the quay-side had been extended