A Ponteland man fully enjoyed his close encounter of the shark kind.
After being signed up by wife Sarah for a scuba experience in Ellesmere Port, Cheshire, Paul Clark had an unforgettable half hour observing some majestic creatures of the sea in a big diving tank.
The 49-year-old, who is a partner at Hexham-based Humble & Clark Legal, also did it to raise money for Muscular Dystrophy UK – the practice’s chosen good cause for the year. He is now close to his target of £1,000.
The Darras Hall resident joined a few others from across the country, who were also taking part in the shark dive at the Blue Planet Aquarium to support the charity.
Mr Clark said: “I had said for many years that I would like to learn to scuba dive and swim with whales.
“But when Sarah found out there was a shark dive available in Cheshire and that Muscular Dystrophy UK organises sessions at the venue for those who are raising funds for the charity, it ticked enough boxes for her to sign me up.
“She did have my life insurance policy in her hand when she told me, but the sharks in the tank are not man eaters and I was very much looking forward to the experience.
“On the day itself, after the pre-dive briefing – basic scuba training and safety procedures – there were no feelings of fear and the team of three professional divers accompanying us were excellent.
“The first thing that struck me when I entered the tank was the silence, but for my own breathing, then after seeing the faces of spectators in the underwater glass tunnel, I was surprised to notice a stingray some 6ft across and lying in the sand only a metre or so from my feet.
“At our next stop, we were circled by curious sharks of varying sizes, including a 320kg sand tiger shark. I came within touching distance of this and several other sharks and stingrays and even though they were very quiet, you could sense when the sharks were close behind you.
“Leaving that underwater world behind was something of a wrench as it was an awe-inspiring experience.
“After speaking to children and teenagers with muscular dystrophy, as well as their parents, I wanted to do a significant activity to raise money for such a worthy cause and I’m grateful to those friends, clients and contacts who have donated so generously.”
Mr Clark recently achieved the necessary qualification to go scuba diving when he and his wife visit Mauritius in April to celebrate Mr Clark’s 50th birthday.
Visit www.justgiving.com/PA-Clark to add to the Muscular Dystrophy UK donations.