Vobster Quay became a chortling sea of fluffy beards and ill-fitting Santa suits on Sunday 11 December as almost 100 hardy scuba divers braved the snow and ice to take part in the mass sponsored Vobster Santas dive in aid of the RNLI and the Dorset & Somerset Air Ambulance.
As the heavens opened and thick snow fell around them, divers from across the country converged on Vobster Quay near Frome in Somerset to get involved in what has become a popular final fixture in the scuba diving calendar. Despite the snow and sub-zero temperatures, there was no shortage of smiles and festive cheer as divers climbed into their red pantaloons and strapped on their fluffy beards for a dive like no other. Vobster Santas has always been a great leveler with divers of all levels – from recently-certified Open Water divers to hardcore rebreather techies – rubbing shoulders and sharing the free mince pies in a good-natured last dive of the year.
Since the event’s inception in 2007, Vobster Santas has raised well over £40,000 for charity. This year’s event saw divers supporting two charities very dear to their hearts – the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) and the Dorset & Somerset Air Ambulance. Once again, divers were invited to seek sponsorship for their efforts from friends and families and they answered that call admirably with over £1,000 raised. Vobster Quay did its bit too by donating a additional £500 to each charity.
Both charities were well represented at the event with both sending local volunteers to help with the fundraising efforts. Santa divers relished the opportunity to snap off a selfie with Stormy Stan, the RNLI’s jolly mascot, who turned up to mix and mingle with the divers as they prepared for the mass dive. With Vobster’s own Tim Clements keeping all the Santas in check, the Santas hit the water at 10am sharp in a bubbling mass of fluffy beards and ill-fitting red pantaloons – a truly surreal sight for sure!
Running alongside the sponsored scuba dive, a very special prize draw raffle was laid on with prizes donated by some of the biggest names in diving including Fourth Element, Otter Drysuits, Nautilus, Apeks Diving, KUBI, Nammu-Tech, Kent Tooling, the Go Diving Show and DivedUp Publications. Divers dug deep to raise over £1,400 from the raffle alone, bringing the fundraising total to over £3,000 which was split equally between the two charities.
“We are over the moon! The day was full of festive cheer with red and white fluffy outfits everywhere you looked. We are absolutely delighted that we managed to get almost 100 Santa divers on site despite the potentially treacherous weather conditions. What a result! Vobster Santas is one of the highlights of the Vobster year – we’re thrilled that so many divers, their friends and family members have given so generously to support both the RNLI and the Dorset & Somerset Air Ambulance. Each and every year, these two charities are responsible for helping to save the lives of so many people across the country. Vobster Santas is our way of saying a massive thank you for the essential, life-saving work that they do,” commented Vobster site manager Tim Clements.
Photo credit: Jason Brown/bardophotographic.com