We are trying to raise £7,500 to help Jay, a ten year old quadruple amputee who was adopted through St Andrew’s Children’s Society, who has been chosen to represent Scotland at the World Para Surfing Championship in Pismo Beach California in December, to be joined by her family at the event. Here is Jay’s surfing story…
Why did Jay take up surfing?
Well….this was an entirely ‘right place at the right time’ scenario!
We were sitting on Hopeman beach on the final day of our holiday in July 2021, when a slim, dark curly haired, wetsuit wearing man approached us and said something along the lines of ‘I see you have a disabled daughter’ to which I replied “I have two!” He then asked if they’d like to try surfing….and that was it!
Kev Anderson from SurfABLE Scotland said “give me 20 minutes” and came back with his awesome team, some surfboards, a beach wheelchair and took Jay, Linsey and the two children they’d made friends with out on the sea.
They had an absolute blast!!
We later chatted to Kev and he explained that SurfABLE Scotland, based on the North East Scotland coast are the first inclusive and fully adaptive surf therapy organisation.
Their programme provides assisted and non-assisted group lessons alongside 1:1 lessons for surfers who require a higher ratio of assistance at all times.
We thought this sounded perfect for Jay and Linsey and booked them in for another lesson a few weeks later.
How long has Jay been doing surfing?
Not long at all – Jay is relatively new to surfing and has been attending lessons with SurfABLE Scotland as often as possible for about a year and a half. However, in that time she has progressed really well showing that she has a natural talent. She’s resilient and falling off doesn’t phase her at all. She’s not put off by the cold temperatures of the North Sea or the waves.
SurfABLE Scotland say that surfing is all about fun and adventure. Their amazing team of instructors, coaches and volunteers create the best experience.
Kev has been Jay’s instructor from the very beginning – he is awesome! If it wasn’t for Kev approaching us on the last day of our holiday, none of this would have happened.
What does Jay like about surfing?
Jay loves being outdoors. She loves doing anything where she gets wet or messy. She just loves surfing. We say that being in the sea is her Happy Place…she could sit in the water all day if she was allowed!
The cold temperature of the North Sea doesn’t put her off at all. She doesn’t really feel the cold when she’s enjoying herself.
How often does Jay practice surfing?
Jay practices as often as possible – usually about fortnightly if we can fit a lesson in around skateboarding and swimming. She also has a ‘CoolBoard’ which she can use to help balance, posture and help her core strength.
Where does Jay practice surfing?
The stunning Moray coast is where the regular lessons with SurfABLE are… Lossiemouth, Hopeman, Cullen and Sandend – all roughly an hour’s drive away.
What does Jay find hard (if at all) about surfing?
Jay faces some challenges in the surf to get to a level of independence that matches her enthusiasm and wish to progress. Starting with paddling and negotiating the surf independently (moving into position). Jay is unable to paddle efficiently at least without introducing a left arm prosthetic and given enough time to train with it. For the time being Jay needs assistance to get through the oncoming waves and into position to take off at the correct point. Once on a wave Jay’s ‘Pop’, stretching into a wave riding posture, will be more challenging without fingers to grip the deck of the board and pull it into the correct angle that each individual wave needs depending on its steepness and speed of the peel and the quicker reaction and arching turn it may need.
What does Jay like to do best when surfing?
Jay appears to get the most important element of surfing which is to love being in the surf. Surfing on the board, diving off in the deep water, swimming under the waves and body surfing at the end of each session Jay is connecting with the sea by fully immersing into the activity and by enjoying the experience of being in the water just as much as catching waves and progressing in the technical elements.
Do you have any scary/funny surfing stories?
There’s always great banter with the SurfABLE team…at the end of one lesson, Kev thought it was a good idea to throw jellyfish and one bounced off Linsey’s face!!
Has Jay entered any other surfing competitions?
Yes! Jay took part in Surfing England’s Adaptive Surfing Open at The Wave in Bristol in July this year. This was her first event and the first time she was on BIG waves….she had the best time. She was given the new name of ‘Shred’ as she was recognised for being great at shredding on both land and sea! She was also the youngest competitor and absolutely loved meeting the other competitors.
Would Jay like to compete in the Paralympics one day?
Yes! That would be her dream!!
Have other family members tried to surf?
Jay’s older sister Linsey often joins in for lessons, but prefers to play around in the sea rather than be on a board. Fraser (dad) wears a wetsuit and helps to support both girls.
It’s not for mum (she hates sand and says it goes everywhere)
What would it mean to the family if they could all be with Jay at the event?
As a family we feel that it’s important to be with Jay at such a huge event. It’s too far away to go alone!
If you would like to donate to our crowd funding page to help us raise £7,500 so that Jay’s family can join her at the World Para Surfing Championship in Pismo Beach California in December where she has been chosen to represent Scotland – please click here:
This blog post was written by Lisa, who adopted Jay aged six through St Andrew’s Children’s Society with her husband Fraser.