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Historically diving was a male dominated activity but more recently more and more women have joined the ranks.  With a staff of over 30 volunteers, and a third of them being women, this shows a big increase from when I started over 20 years ago.  I have often come across the situation where women have been given the small child or other women to look after, within the diving environment, thinking this is all they’re good for.  My personal experience is that women are just as proficient as any other diver.  Having run a Dive Centre for over 10 years, two of my main instructors, Gill and Rhonda, have worked extremely hard, have always risen to the challenge and have never let me down. Unfortunately, a lot of women feel that they have to be better than their male counterparts to succeed.

Here at Orca, gender does not come into the equation; all you have to be is a good Dive Master or Instructor.  In recent weeks one of our young students, Jess, completed her Open Water and Dry Suit qualification on a very cold weekend.  She did not tell us until the end of dive three that she actually was wet and her dry suit wasn’t!  Although many of us have had this same experience in the past, for an Open Water diver on her qualifying dives, with water temperature below 4 ̊, this showed her determination to complete.

One of our young rescue divers, Katie, had planned to start her Dive Master course as soon as she turned 18.  Last Tuesday, on her 18th birthday, Katie spent the day going through her knowledge reviews with Rhonda.  In the evening we were in the deep pool, with Katie going through her skill circuit and rescue scenario.  Wednesday and Thursday Katie again spent all day in the classroom with Rhonda.  Thursday night, Katie was in South Woodham Ferrers pool doing her 400m swim, 800m snorkel and equipment exchange.  The rest of her course would have been completed on the Friday but for the Beast from the East.

Apart from our diving staff, we also have two amazing women who work tirelessly with shore cover and administration.  Julie and Zoe, who are very important members of the team, make sure everything runs smoothly in the preparation and execution of all training.  Without them it would be a lot less organised, which frees up all instructors to spend time with their students.

We have had the pleasure of teaching and now working with, Janie Banks ~ Dive Master.  To find out a bit more about her story, tune in to ITV Anglian News between 6 – 6:30 on 8th March or London Tonight on 9th March between 6 – 6:30.

There are many women who I haven’t mentioned in this who I have worked with; I would just like to say thank you for all your help, hard work and effort.