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Seratonin For The Soul

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Surf Snowdonia

Carney is back filming with Help for Heroes today.

Earlier in the year we surfed with Marty Aldrich and the warriors for Op Surf UK 2019.  We're back in the waves with our heroes, and this time we're at the world's first inland surf lagoon where man-made waves roll against a backdrop of mountains, forests and farmland.  

Today we're following 4 riders at Surf Snowdonia at Adventure Parc in North Wales' stunning Conwy Valley.  It is truly an extraordinary place and perfect for blue water therapy as the surfers can work on their skills with waves rolling every 90 seconds.  

To say these individuals are inspiring is an understatement.  Amongst today's participants are Rowan Bowyer, Jackie Johnson and Martin Pollock.  Martin featured in the breathtaking 2017 documentary Resurface by Josh Izenberg and Wynn Padula.  Despite being a triple amputee, Martin, aka 1limbsurfer, is an advanced surfer, competing worldwide and proving that his


abilities may be different now, but they don't stop him.  Martin also featured in Michael Durban's film Paddling for Happiness in which he gives his breath-taking personal account of what happened whilst he was serving in Afghanistan, and how surfing brought back his sense of life and happiness.

He's joined in the water by Rowan Bowyer who featured in our Op Surf documentary this year in which she explained "An opportunity came up to do Op Surf as a beneficiary last year, so I signed up for it, I was a lot more fragile last year, in a lot darker place, but I found the whole experience so supportive and kind of gentle, but dynamic at the same time."

Op Surf was pivotal for Rowan who coached in 2018 with Bill Sharpe and has

gone on to do an ISA Level 1 Surf Coaching qualification.  Rowan is now one of the first 2 female veterans worldwide to qualify as a surf instructor and come back to Op Surf as a teacher.  She says, "just being able to pass on that little bit of stoke is excellent."

There's a long-established body of evidence which shows that when you organise therapeutic activities around particular tasks, people benefit not just from social interaction but also build confidence.  Organisations such as Wave Project and Bude Surf Veterans are proof of the efficacy of surfing as recovery and therapy for both physical and mental trauma.  Operation Surf set out to help vets cope with PTSD and mental and emotional stress by teaching them to surf.  How can surfing change the lives of ex-forces personnel?  1 in 3 combat troops are diagnosed with serious PTSD symptoms.  Less than 40% of them seek help.  More and more research has demonstrated the healing effects of surfing on the brain and body.

How do you get your cowabunga on in a huge lagoon?  A wavefoil shuttles back and forth, like a snowplough, along a central underwater track running the length of the 300m lagoon. As the machinery moves back and forth it generates a barrelling wave on each side of the track.  The waves interact with the contours on the bed of the lagoon providing various wave profiles at different points in the lagoon.  The waves are 2m for advanced, 1.2m for intermediate and 70cm high for beginner surfers, peeling for up to 150 metres. That’s the equivalent of a 20-second ride for the surfer on the wave.

Carney is a CAA approved drone pilot so we're hoping to get some aerial shots of the action to add to the interviews and 4k treats.

You can watch our Op Surf film, shot by Carney and produced by Fleur here.

Watch the videolightbox[documentary 320 180]Help for Heroes Op Surf UK::

We've also got Ed Henderson filming for People In A Film with Wire and Graham Duff today.  You can read more about his shoot with Colin Newman and Malka Spigel here.