As a new diver in 2005, Alison Smallwood was just in it to prove that she could do it.
“I only had a try dive to showcase girl power as my husband had been a diver for years. I was an early seventies child, so I grew up with the film Jaws. I was petrified of sharks and open water,” Alison told us. “I used to go to dive club meetings with him every month. He used to be a divemaster for a local dive center and one day, I thought, “I can do this.”
Now, twelve years later, Alison is a PADI Master Scuba Diver Trainer and one of the winners of our Inspiring PADI Women contest for Healing and Wellness.
“I believe Stacey nominated me as I gave her my time and understanding throughout her PADI adventures, praising and nurturing her along the way to give her the confidence and skill base needed to fulfill her dreams,” she said.
Working with the United Kingdom’s Royal Marines, she discovered the healing power of scuba diving first had.
She explained, “I worked in Egypt for three months teaching our Royal Marines who were flying in straight from Afghanistan to be taught the PADI Open Water course, and the healing power in that chapter of my life was unbelievable. Some of these guys had scars and were mentally wounded, but to see the power of diving embrace them was amazing and an experience that I am very proud of and I will never forget.”
Alison also recognizes the everyday healing power of scuba diving from the stresses of life, and how it transforms people into being advocates for the health of our oceans.
“We all suffer from different stress levels throughout modern day living and with diving those stresses take a back seat as you begin to discover a whole new world waiting for you to explore. It shows us the beauty of marine life and the importance of coral reefs and the environment and how we can play our part in marine conservation,” Alison said. “It empowers us to be advocates and educate others and how they can help in everyday life.”
As a Master Scuba Diver Trainer, Alison cherishes her role in helping others discover the underwater world and mobilize them to be a force for good.
“I knew I could make the world better through diving once I became a PADI Professional as it gave me the materials and the platform to do so. I left my job in retail, my husband and I opened Dreamdivers 5 star PADI IDC Dive Center in Feb 2006 in Rotherham, United Kingdom,” she told us. “I have worked there ever since, passing on and sharing my enthusiasm for diving and training individuals so that they get to see what I have had the privilege of enjoying for the last twelve years. I love being a PADI Instructor, and I will never forget the day I qualified. I was so proud and I still am.”
As a diver, her passion for the ocean, goes beyond just herself:
“I am so passionate about the underwater world, it’s my life. I feel alive when I am in the water and I am constantly passing on my enthusiasm to others as I manage a dive club with around 60 members who I arrange trips for every year in the UK and abroad, so that I can help them discover and enjoy different experiences and become as passionate as I am,” she explained. “We also carry out beach cleanups and continue to educate everyone around us in terms of marine conservation and the importance of preserving our oceans.”
When asked about her active role in inspiring other women to get involved in diving, she mentioned her plans for PADI Women’s Dive Day on July 15th:
“For the last few years we have celebrated PADI Women’s Dive Day by hosting Discover Scuba® Diving sessions for females only, and also, this year, we have an event at Capernwray on 15th July. Plus, we are offering 20% off all non-professional courses for females in a four week period up to the event itself, plus half price DSD sessions in July to inspire more females to dive.”
Over the the next five to ten years, Alison hopes to explore various dive environments, starting with South Africa next year, and to continue to empower others to dive and continue to learn.
“In my role as a diver I have learned to not be afraid and that it’s okay to be out of your comfort zone now and you will gain the rewards from doing so. Everyday is a school day, and you learn something new all the time in which you can then pass on to others.”
“My PADI means everything to me. My Hope is to continue to inspire more females to dive. My Ocean is my world.” – Alison Smallwood, PADI Master Scuba Diver Trainer.
Learn more about PADI Women’s Dive Day on July 15th and find an event near you.
The article was originally published by PADI.com