Andrew dives in to discover an underwater world

Andrew Coulson pictured during his session with Morpeth Dolphins.
Andrew Coulson pictured during his session with Morpeth Dolphins.
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NEVER mind dancing on the ceiling, I discovered that you can get an even better feeling underwater.

I have to admit I was a bit nervous when asked to do a session with the Morpeth Dolphins because I had never been SCUBA diving before.

And it took me a little while to get used to wearing all the equipment — a diving tank/cylinder which provides the air and the jacket it is attached to, as well as a mask, fins and a mouthpiece.

But once in the pool water, I was loving it. After going through some important exercises with Diving Officer Neil Fraser I was swimming right at the bottom of the deep end.

I quickly noticed how quiet it is underwater and as a result it’s a very relaxing experience. You are able to swim at a comfortable pace and forget about what’s going on in your life above the water.

And it was re-assuring that under the buddy system, Neil was always there for support and to remind me about the correct techniques.

Morpeth Dolphins is affiliated to the British Sub-Aqua Club (BSAC) and is a not-for-profit group with only the members’ interests at heart.

SCUBA training with the club is open to anyone aged 14 or over who is medically fit to dive. Sessions are carried out by trained instructors at the individual’s own pace to build confidence, with safety as a key factor.

Whilst learning to dive all lectures, training and swimming pool diving equipment are included in membership fees.

If you have not tried SCUBA diving before then a £5 taster session is provided to help you decide whether you wish to continue with the full training course.

Those who sign up for the Ocean Diver Course can then progress from the swimming pool to open water.

Neil said: “The people who join our club will learn to dive and get an internationally recognised qualification which means they can dive anywhere in the world.

“We go through all the basics such as breathing underwater and maintaining buoyancy and only move on when the person is happy to do so. We then go on to cover more advanced procedures so that trainees can confidently dive in open water.

“We feel that we provide good value for money because we are doing it for the love of SCUBA diving.

“Diving is an opportunity to completely switch off and go into another world – one of peace and tranquillity.”

The diving club formed in 1973 and was originally called Drager Normal Air due to Drager supplying some of the original equipment.

The name was changed to Morpeth Dolphins in the early 1980s when the club joined British Sub Aqua Club, the UK’s governing body for the sport.

Like many recreational groups in the last couple of years it has fallen on some hard times, but Neil is hopeful that things will pick up.

“We used to run pool sessions at Morpeth Riverside Leisure Centre, but due to the recession and declining numbers we are now sharing facilities with Ashington Diving Club at Ashington Leisure Centre,” he said.

“It’s a shame this has happened, but we are now looking upwards and trying our best to attract new members. Hopefully, we can take advantage of the higher profile diving is getting — for example a new BBC2 series called Britain’s Secret Seas started this month and runs for another two weeks.”

The Longhorsley resident has been with the club for 17 years and has dived in many countries including Australia, the Caymen Islands and the Red Sea in the Middle East.

He said: “I’ve experienced some amazing sights in sea waters, there is so much beauty to be found.

“Even though I’ve been all over the world, for me the Farne Islands in Northumberland is one of the best locations on the planet for diving.”

To take part in a taster session, telephone 07850 127649 or email misc@oldschoolholidays.com

The club is also keen to recruit qualified divers.