Nine of the country’s top surfers recently gathered at Sandymouth, a National Trust beach in North Cornwall, to mark the launch of a new phase of a unique surfing project.
The National Trust Surf Ambassadors project helps support and promote the conservation work carried out by the Trust in the surfers’ playgrounds along the Devon and Cornwall coast. The team of Ambassadors each carry the Trust’s oak leaf on their boards, and help to champion the work of the National Trust at the coast. They do this by communicating through a variety of media from short films to facebook and by getting involved in local coastal conservation projects. They also help out at special eco-surf events with National Trust rangers, spending the morning carrying out conservation work on the dunes, cliffs and heathlands overlooking the water, and the afternoon appreciating their hard work from the sea.
Alan Stokes 2009 British Champion, Jayce Robinson 2011 British Nationals Runner-up, Celine Gehret and Dan ‘mole’ Joel legendry big wave surfer have been working with the Trust for the last few years, however just recently they have been joined by a host of Britain’s best longboarders.
The group included European Longboard Champion Ben Skinner, runner up Adam Griffiths, Ben Howarth, Candice O’Donnell, Becky Stanhope and Raife Gaskell. After a quick brief on how the National Trust manages the local area and its importance, the ambassadors were put straight to work doing some vital conservation work. ‘I had a lot of fun and learnt lots about the National Trust and what they do for the coastline. I’ll be getting my hands dirty and involved in the conservation work again’, said Candice O’Donnell, the 2011 British longboard champion.
All the ambassadors are National Trust volunteers and they join some 60,000 others who give up their time to help the charity. Raife Gaskell said: ‘Stoked to be helping out and am impressed how many volunteers you have’. After a couple of hours’ hard graft clearing scrub, the tide had dropped out enough to get in the water. All the ambassadors had been watching it while they worked and knew the peak they wanted to surf. There was some healthy competition between the short and longboarders in the line-up, but everyone was stoked to be the only ones in the water.
For many of the ambassadors, after wintering in places like Costa Rica it was great to back in the water in Britain. ‘I think that the Trust rangers are doing a great job by keeping the coastline looking pristine; it makes the surfing experience much more enjoyable with an amazing background like at Sandymouth’, said Ben Haworth, the 2011 British longboard champion.
The National Trust protects over 420 miles of coastline in the South West alone, and 800 miles nationally. Rob Joules, Watersports Co-ordinator for the National Trust, said ‘It’s a real privilege to be working with such amazing surfers who are so down to earth and so interested in our work and getting more involved. We manage and maintain the coastline for everyone to enjoy but rely heavily on donations to allow us to continue to conserve this special resource’. Alan Stokes, Dan Joel, Jayce Robinson and Celine Gehret have being advocates for the work and the vision of the Trust over the last few years and have given a huge amount of their time so its really exciting to be welcoming more world class surfers onto our ambassador programme.”
Keep your eyes out for the National Trust Ambassadors competing around the world; Jayce Robinson is off to compete in France however slightly closer to home many will be competing in the 2012 British Longboard Championships brought to you in association with the National Trust.