02 July 2018
Every year Kernow Dive Fest supports DDRC Healthcare with amazing donations and fundraising activities. The annual weekend of diving and socialising culminates in an auction and raffle and has raised over £35000 in the past twelve years.
This year Dr’s Ben and Becca, DDRC diving doctors, joined in the fun. They were also there to represent DDRC Healthcare and to pass on advice about dive incident management.
This is Becca’s account:
After finishing work at DDRC on Friday I jumped in the car and drove down to Cornwall for the much anticipated Kernow Fest 2018! Once there I met up with the assembled BSAC groups from Devon, Cornwall and further afield. The sun was shining and they were regaling stories of the incredible dives completed during the day – apparently the sea was flat as a millpond and the viz was stonking. After heated debate as to whether people had dived the Hell-ops, the Heele-ops or the Helloooo-pees we all assembled for the evening meeting to be briefed on the meticulous, logistical headache (but fabulously colour-coded) dive plan for tomorrow… the excitement and anticipation was palpable!
Saturday I was to be diving the Runnelstone at late morning, it was great to watch all the BSAC clubs coming together to launch an armada of colourful RIBs. Whilst the sea was not quite as glass like as the preceding day the sun was out and shining – Factor 30 was in high demand!
Despite the sun, as we headed out of Penzance harbour I thought maybe a poncho would be more appropriate due to the swell! Undeterred, our gallant Cox’n piloted us safely (shaken not stirred) to the dive site. Hearing reports from the morning divers of amazing visibility and a plethora of marine life we could not wait to get in the water. We were not to be disappointed. Rolling backwards into significant surge it was a rush to get under ASAP, but once under… Wow! With visibility in excess of 20m the dive site opened up in front of us. We dropped over the edge of the pinnacle to an anchor and slowly circled around, spotting a multitude of marine creatures on our way – red gurnard crawling along the bottom, dog fish weaving through the kelp and lobster (both the squat and regular variety) hiding amongst the cracks. As we continued our dive, the wreck of the City of Westminster materialised in front of us – it’s not often you can see from one end to the other. Hiding among the plates we saw conger eels and more crustaceans. Unfortunately, all too soon it was time to come up and pass time on the deco stop – normally a dull affair, we were entertained by jelly fish wobbling past and a school of tasty looking bass! Epic diving was had by all. It was quite breath taking and one of the best UK dives I have ever done – I had to remind myself I wasn’t in Malta!
After lunch we went out for a second dive to Low Lee reef. Whilst the viz had closed in the marine life was still out in force with squillions of spider crabs and quite possibly the largest crawfish I’ve ever seen in the UK! Having clocked up a reasonable amount of deco on the morning dive we kept things safe with a relatively short dive and safety stop before heading back to the harbour for recovery and on to the evening’s festivities. It had been a flawlessly organised day of diving and fun was had by all.
Once back at the campsite, the BSAC clubs assembled around the BBQ and we set up the DDRC stall. Like moths to the flame, divers were drawn to the stall by a multitude of freebies on offer including pens, pocket masks and lip balms. We were able to use this as an opportunity to discuss the “5 minute neuro exam”, give out stickers on dive incident management and generally talk about safe diving practices. Special thanks to Rhiannon for ensuring nobody escaped without their very own National Diving Accident Helpline and Lifeboat emergency cards.
Once the BBQ was in full force, the raffle tickets came out with divers fiercely attempted to collect tickets of every colour going – to greater or lesser success (nobody told me about the blue tickets….!)
Suitably satiated and ticketed up, the great draw time arrived and I was fortunate enough to be a lucky winner. I am now the proud owner of my very own pot of Thai Green Curry paste. If only I had a blue ticket….!
As if we hadn’t had enough excitement, it was time for the auction with prizes kindly donated from far and wide. There was fierce competition as clubs went head to head to outbid one another and bets being placed on how long Neil’s voice would last as he called the auction. These two events alone raised just shy of £1500! Kernow Dive Fest is one of our biggest supporters and the money raised from previous events has been put towards a new hyperbaric medical observation unit. This has already been invaluable with assisting in the care of unwell divers. No doubt this year’s funds will continue to help us provide the best level of care for divers in need.
As the sun went down and contented divers drifted off to bed I cannot imagine a better day of diving. The passion for the sport and the camaraderie was present all day and well into dusk as divers sat round sharing their stories of the day and other adventures.
From all at DDRC we would both like to say a massive thank you for the hard work put in by everyone, especially the organisers John Adams, Allen Murray, Dave White and Chris Lobb. Incredible generosity was shown by all . This would not have been possible without the donations from sponsors Fourth Element, Mares, AP Diving, Steve McEwan and Blue O Two. Here’s to Kernow 2019!