Two local volunteers have been recognised for their work with a pioneering mental health surf project for young people, at an annual awards ceremony hosted by the UK Pro Surf Association.
Dorset duo Chloe Curtis and Suzie Duffy were nominated in the 2015 UK Surf Awards – dubbed the ‘surfing Oscars’ – for their voluntary work with the Wave Project.
At the presentation ceremony in Newquay, Suzie picked up the young volunteer award and Chloe was named runner-up for the courage award.
During time as patients at Pebble Lodge in Westbourne, Bournemouth, Chloe and Suzie were introduced to the project by Zoe Carter, Child Mental Health Nurse at Dorset HealthCare and Wave Project NHS Co-ordinator. They have since completed surfing courses and now volunteer for the initiative, helping other young people with mental health difficulties.
Zoe said: “We are extremely proud of both Suzie and Chloe. They have both been actively involved in the Wave Project for some time now, volunteering and supporting other young people.
“It was a delight to be able to celebrate their achievements at a glamorous award ceremony in Cornwall, alongside some of the UK’s top professional surfers.”
Originally starting in Cornwall, the project came to Dorset in 2013 with support from Dorset HealthCare, which funded a successful pilot scheme. The pilot worked with 20 young people facing mental health difficulties, and provided surfing lessons as a way to help individuals improve their self-esteem. The initial results were hugely successful, with group members developing greater confidence and motivation, as well as learning a complex skill and keeping active. As a result, the Wave Project was later awarded funding by the National Lottery in 2014.
Joe Taylor, Wave Project founder and CEO, said: “Chloe and Suzie have each shown extraordinary courage and it was an honour to be able to recognise how far they’ve come in overcoming their difficulties and going on to become dedicated volunteers.
“It’s also a great tribute to all of our volunteers in Dorset, who regularly give up their time to help change the lives of vulnerable children and young people.”
For more information about the Wave Project courses in 2016, visit www.waveproject.co.uk/courses/