A team from Scuba Diving rehabilitation charity Deptherapy heads to the Caribbean island of Grenada for the first time this month as part of a two-year programme funded by the Armed Forces’ Covenant Fund Trust’s (AFCFT) Positive Pathways Programme.
The expedition, which comprises several RAID training courses tailored to different beneficiaries as well as a reef survey, almost didn’t happen due to COVID constraints. The charity’s original plan for a two-week expedition to Egypt had to be re-booked and eventually cancelled, but thanks to the incredible flexibility of the AFCFT and their strategic partners, the Invictus Games Foundation, permission was granted for the funding to be allocated by Deptherapy for an expedition to Grenada.
Team Deptherapy will be staying at the True Blue Bay Boutique Resort and diving with Aquanauts in Grenada. Aquanauts have experience working with clients who have mental and physical challenges and offer the accessibility that some expedition members require.
The 10 day expedition will take place from 13th to 23rd October 2021 with the group having to quarantine in resort for two days whilst awaiting the results of ‘on arrival’ COVID PCR tests. There will be at least seven days of diving which will comprise a RAID Deep Course, three RAID Advanced 35 courses and five RAID Nitrox courses.
Two or more days will be spent conducting a reef survey. This will be led by Deptherapy Ambassador and beneficiary Tom Oates, who is in his second year of studying for a degree in Marine Biology at Hull University. Expedition members have been supplied with Caribbean fish ID slates and are already developing their survey plan.
Over the last 18 months, the beneficiaries have been studying fish and coral ID led by Dr Deborah McNeill of the Open Oceans Project as part of the Positive Pathways Programme. The reef survey work is leading towards the second part of the programme which takes place in 2022 on an expedition to the Red Sea where a comparative survey of the aquatic life on the SS Turkia in the Gulf of Suez and the iconic SS Thistlegorm will be undertaken.
Dr Richard Castle, who is an independent consultant psychologist specialising in trauma and one of Deptherapy’s Vice Presidents said:
“The majority of Deptherapy’s beneficiaries have mental health challenges, predominantly Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. For the last 18 months expeditions to Roots to complete the Marine Biology programme have been cancelled, re-booked and cancelled again due to COVID. This can be extremely difficult for those with mental health challenges. I would like to say a huge thank you to the Armed Forces’ Covenant Fund Trust for being so flexible in allowing us to change our expedition plans at such short notice.
We have a close relationship with the Trust, but I doubt that even they realise how important their flexibility is in supporting the mental health of our beneficiaries.”
Explorer, author and TV presenter Paul Rose said:
“I have been a supporter of Deptherapy’s bid for Trust funding from the outset in 2019 and very much involved in the project’s plans. It has been awful seeing expedition after expedition cancelled due to COVID. What I have always admired is Deptherapy’s attitude of adapt and overcome and the Grenada Expedition is yet another example of this very positive attitude. I am glad that the team will carry out a beneficiary-led reef survey as this supports the project’s objectives. A big thank you to the AFCFT!”
Corey Goodson was injured in a car accident during basic training prior to joining the Royal Anglian Regiment resulting in paraplegia. At 21 years old he is Deptherapy’s youngest ever beneficiary. Corey said:
“When the Board said we were not going to Roots in October I was shattered! Then out of the blue Richard sent an email asking if I could travel on these dates as we are going to Grenada. It’s an unbelievable, once in a lifetime opportunity. I have a lot of studying to do – my Advanced course, Nitrox and all the fish ID work – but for such an amazing expedition it is more than worth it.”
Formerly in the Scots’ Guards, Afghan veteran Gary Daye said:
“From doing my Deptherapy RAID Open Water 20 during August in Wraysbury to Grenada in October, it is just an unreal journey… I hope I don’t wake up and find it was all a dream!
Lots of hard work studying but it is the focus and buzz that I find reflects how the charity works. I haven’t met most of those on the expedition yet face to face, but we are already a team, a strong team. I am not sure how Deptherapy does it, but they create this positive, supportive atmosphere within the group; it is almost magical. Grenada, here we come!”