My name is Adrian and I have been a frontline police officer for 29 years, and a surfer for over 40 years. Surfing and the people I surf with have been my ‘maintenance therapy’ since childhood without me even realising it.
Prior to joining the police I was a surf instructor on Sennen Beach in West Cornwall and out of season, a pool lifeguard.
I was lucky to be introduced to surf therapy many years ago, when two friends set up ‘Surf Action’. This venture helped military veterans suffering from PTSD, lost limbs or other trauma and I saw the results first hand.
My realisation that organisational support was sometimes poor, came in the form of what appeared to be a routine incident that I was sent to many years ago.
I attended an isolated address to check on the welfare of a special forces soldier who had gone AWOL. As I arrived I saw that the back door was open and could hear loud music from inside. I called out and knocked but had no response.
I walked into the kitchen and could hear the music coming from the adjoining lounge. As I walked through that doorway a gun was pushed against my temple and the man mountain holding it forced me to sit down. I wholeheartedly believed I was going to be killed. It took me several hours of gunpoint negotiation to convince him to not shoot me, then eventually to hand over the weapon. He was finally detained under the mental health act. Subsequently, when I made my final radio update, the incident just got closed – and I went home. Apart from updating my crew mate at the end of the shift, I wasn’t spoken to by anybody else from the organisation. I was left with the feeling that somebody should have least asked if I was ok.
On my rest day the following day I went for my usual surf. A conversation started with ”You’ll never guess what happened to me at work yesterday…”
By the time I returned to work two days later I was fine with the incident, but the disappointment of having no one who seemed to be concerned or offer any help ran deep.
What I hadn’t realised at the time, was that what I had received from my friends while surfing and from my crew mate was peer support in its rawest form – and it worked.
My time as a Surfwell instructor has reinforced the belief within me that this really does work and I am proud to be able to help others.
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