I think this part of the process has without a doubt been one of the most challenging, however, also one of the most exciting.
I had many issues with my ears over the Christmas period, resulting in me having to postpone many courses and miss events that I was extremely looking forward to, such as Scuba Santas. However, with a device that was commonly known as 'the nose balloon' I was back up and running - or should I say back down and diving!
Perhaps one of the most rewarding events was my earning PADI Rescue Diver qualification. I feared this course the most - knowing how difficult and strenuous it was going to be, along with the mammoth book that came along with it and the two extra for my Emergency First Responder course! However, after starting it before, and finishing it after, Christmas, I finally completed it! It was a tiring two days that I couldn't have done without either my fabulous instructor or my rescue buddy! The thought that after being an absolute novice in the water less than ten months ago, and now having the ability to rescue a diver is quite an incredible one.
Another one of the highlights of these past months was going to LIDS - the London International Dive Show. Not only did I get to buy loads of kit and given lots of freebies, I also got to meet Monty Halls! It was an absolute honour to meet the man who sponsors my scholarship. He was so kind and genuine and truly interested in what I had been doing. He also gave me a signed copy of his book 'The Fisherman’s Apprentice'. It was an absolute surprise and a lovely experience!
Whilst there I also completed a Project Aware Specialty with Scuba Youth Zone. It was a really fun experience as it was related to diving and conservation, but in a totally new environment and looking at aspects that I had not yet explored. I was also able to meet divers who were my age and gain an understanding into what they enjoyed about the sport, something which I had. It experienced before.
The next big moment in the year was advertising and choosing the Georgia Williams Diving Scholar for this year. Whilst it absolutely broke my heart that we were up to this stage already, I thoroughly enjoyed the entire process. Being almost 'behind the scenes' during this process gave me a true insight into how difficult the process really was. All three applicants, Tom, George and Alix, did incredibly well during such a rigorous process. After much debating, Tom was finally chosen as this year’s Scholar. With a keen interest and passion for everything underwater, especially sharks, we couldn't think of anybody better to represent both Immerse School of Diving and the Georgia Williams Trust. I look forward to seeing what he does over the next year! With George being given his own scuba gear, and Alix her open water course, all three have had doors opened for them that would otherwise be nigh on impossible. This truly shows how both Immerse School of Diving and the Georgia Williams Trust have an impact on so many teenagers’ lives.
However, despite all of these experiences, the one I would have to say that I will never forget was my first Club Immerse week end trip in The Farnes. Despite feeling almost as nervous as I was before my first open water dives, the dives were truly breath taking! In spite of the average visibility and colder than expected waters, I saw and experienced things that I thought I never would. And yes, I even loved seeing the Jellyfish! We managed to get up close with the seals, something I'll never forget, and see a whole range of aquatic life such as starfish and various forms of coral! I loved every second of my time up there and will hopefully do it all again next year - only with more seals!
Throughout the year I have had one main goal. Every dive, specialty and course has sent me closer to becoming a PADI Master Scuba Diver. To earn this certification, which only two percent of divers manage to ascertain, I have had to become a PADI Rescue Diver, with five specialties and fifty scuba dives. Whilst it has taken a lot of determination, and hard work, last Sunday I finally did my fiftieth dive! It is an achievement that I am extremely proud of and I will never forget the feeling I had when I completed it. I still cannot believe the fact that little over a year ago I was a totally unexperienced diver who couldn't tell one hose from the other, and here I am with the ability to take my diving down hundreds of different routes when I am older. To say this year has changed my life is an absolute understatement!
However, unfortunately my time as The Georgia Williams Diving Scholar has come to an end, therefore I would like to thank some very important people - even though they've heard it all before!
To Jo, Tony, Pete, Rich and everybody else at Immerse School of Diving who I have dived with over the past year - thank you! Without any of you I wouldn't have been able to develop in the diver I am today. I know that within Club Immerse I have made some true friends for life and I couldn't think of better people with whom to have shared this experience.
To John Womack, at Otter Watersports, who tailor made me the best dry suit I could have asked for and gave me the best start into diving that I could have asked for.
To everyone in the diving community, Monty Halls, Mark Powell, Rosemary Lunn, and all who gave up their time to talk to me and inspire me with their stories and experiences and provide me with options for later in my life.
To all of my family, especially Mum and Dad, who have supported me and been with me on almost every dive day, despite the killer early mornings, be it July or January!
A massive thank you to Steve and Lynette Williams at the Georgia Williams Trust. To do what they have done after such a tragic event is truly inspiring, and I hope they take some comfort in knowing that they have changed so many people's lives through their actions. I have been lucky enough to become good friends with both of them throughout my year and can only express my utmost gratitude to them for everything they have done.
Finally, a thank you to everyone who has followed me throughout my experience, and supported me on my way.
So once again, a massive thank you to everyone that has been even marginally involved in giving me this incredible opportunity - it has been one that has undoubtedly changed my life!
Lois Adams x
Lois was the 2014 Georgia Williams Diving Scholar, and completed her PADI Master Scuba Diver rating with Immerse School of Diving. Lois has now handed the baton to the 2015 Georgia Williams Diving Scholar, Tom Edwards.
The Georgia Williams Diving Scholarship is funded by The Georgia Williams Trust and Immerse School of Diving, supported by BBC adventurer Monty Halls, and sponsored by Otter Watersports Drysuits. It is an opportunity for one young person a year to learn to become a PADI Master Scuba Diver, the highest PADI recreational diving qualification, with Immerse School of Diving in Telford. Want to learn more about The Georgia Williams Diving Scholarship? Check out our website page for further information on our work for The Georgia Williams Trust.