Picture yourself standing in the car park of the National Diving and Activity Centre on a very cold Friday morning, contemplating the diving plan for the day. Out of the corner of your eye a large articulated lorry carrying a portacabin rumbles into the site – then another two arrive. Then the reality of the situation dawns on you. One month ago, you had agreed to be a partner in a dive training business. There was no turning back, it was time to roll up your sleeves as the hard work was about to start creating a fully functioning dive training centre from the ground up…
“Strictly Scuba!” one of the team blurts out as we attempt to choose a name for the business… quickly followed by “Are you serious? We’re divers not dancers!”.
In that moment, ScubaQuest was born – a privately established limited company that is owned, operated and managed by a team of diving professionals who will provide a comprehensive range of recreational and technical dive training.
It would be easy to say that at that point we were a team. The truth is the process of establishing the business turned us into a team. Very quickly we settled almost seamlessly into our roles, based on our experience and personal expertise. The list of actions coming out of our first board meeting was eye-wateringly long. Corporate governance, creating a business plan, developing safe operating procedures, applying for a business bank account, selecting and buying the diving equipment we would need, designing the dive centre – more than enough to keep us busy!
From the outset we were determined to build a teaching environment which mirrored our professional approach to in-water instruction. Our two multi-media classrooms, fitted with a complete range of audio-visual aids provide a relaxed, warm and comfortable setting where it is a joy to be taught – so much so that a number of other organisations have booked our facilities. Our partnership with the NDAC team has grown from strength to strength and provides our students with priority transport to the dive pontoon, as well as preferential service from the gas room staff. These might seem like small differences, but it all helps to keep a flow and focus to the learning process, with minimal distractions.
Every successful business needs customers. By establishing the ScubaQuest HQ at The National Diving and Activity Centre we were able to leverage their existing presence in the marketplace through their well-established website to attract students.
In addition, in today’s world an online presence is essential, hence the ScubaQuest Facebook and Instagram communities were initiated.
It is sometimes stated that behind every successful man there is a successful woman – or is it the other way around…!?! Here at ScubaQuest, we have a large, dedicated team of both men and women who support our operations. We simply could not operate without the support of our volunteers, who love to dive and improve their skills. Team ScubaQuest is our group of Santa’s little helpers! It has been a pleasure for all of us watching the friendships grow along with the business.
After our first year of operations, ScubaQuest had successfully delivered over 150 student courses in the broad categories of Entry Level, Speciality and Technical training. We organised a trip to Scapa Flow in the 100th anniversary year of the scuttling of the German Fleet. Doctor Oli Firth (Hyperdive) had completed ten fit-to-dive and fourteen HSE Medicals at our Dive Centre. Jack became a TDI Technical Divemaster, and Paul reached the PADI Master Scuba Diver level.
The ScubaQuest brand is now well established. For our technical instructor Mark it was an extremely busy year, with nearly 50 certifications processed. We helped a number of former servicemen and servicewomen achieve their personal goals as part of the Help for Heroes programme. One of our proudest achievements during this first year, organised and driven by Julia, was the Try Dive day for Blesma, which is a military charity for limbless veterans.
Reflecting one year on, it feels so true to say fortune really does favour the brave!
OK, so this year has not been quite what anyone expected(!), and the extended shutdown of NDAC has led to a pause in our operations. No sooner had NDAC re-opened (on Saturday 31st Oct), and 3 students had started on the XCCR rebreather training course, the UK government announced another lockdown, and so after just two days, we had to shut up shop and go into another period of hibernation!
Who knows what this year will hold?! But one thing you can be assured of, ScubaQuest is ready to meet any challenges thrown at it!
Audentes Fortuna Iuvat!