Around 80 people with learning disabilities turned up to a windswept Fistral Beach on Friday, June 22nd to take to the water. Around 40 took part in the competition, and the rest took a surfing lesson. Some of the competitors were surfing for the first time.
Above: English surf champion Hannah Harding presents medals to winners of learning disability Surf Challenge.
The event was part of learning disabilities week, and was organised by The Wave Project, with funding from Cornwall Council. Over 30 local volunteers also helped out on the day,
Organiser Joe Taylor, from The Wave Project, said: “I’ve been really blown away by the positive feedback we’ve had from everyone who came to the event.
“All the people who took part were fantastic and braved some pretty tough conditions to take part.
“The whole event made a really important statement about people with learning disabilities, because it showed that they are just as capable of taking on a demanding challenge as anyone else – in some cases more so.
“It couldn’t have happened without the support of Cornwall Council, Surfing GB, the UK Pro Surf Tour and lots of volunteers who gave their time to make it happen.”
English National Surfing Champion Hannah Harding said on her Facebook page: “It was my pleasure to get to hand out the awards at the Wave Project Surf Challenge for disabled children down at Fistral yesterday! So many happy faces .”
Dave Reed, from the UK Pro Surf Tour, who helped organise the contest, said: “It has been great to been involved with the inaugural surfing event for people with learning disabilities, and to see so many people get involved and support such a fantastic cause.”
Terry Stanton, from Volunteer Cornwall, who helped to organise Learning Disabilities Week, said: “What a fantastic day! Let’s do it again next year!”
The overall winner on the day was Robbie Turner, aged 12, from St Just, who attends Cape Cornwall School.
The finalists were Louis Sutton, from Carnon Downs; Aiden Coxhead from St Austell and Wayne Williams, from Bodmin.
Sarah Hamshaw, the Special Educational Needs Coordinator from Cape Cornwall School, said the day made a real different to people who took part.
She said: “What a fantastic day for raising self-esteem and aspirations for all students regardless of ability. The three students we sent had a fantastic day, it was wonderful.”