Members of Calne Diving Club have splashed out on new equipment and a life-sized mannequin after receiving more than £12,000 from the National Lottery.
The group, which trains every week at the Calne Leisure Centre, has ordered new kit for four divers, including jackets, masks, regulators and cylinders, as well as a mannequin for life-saving practice.
Members can put a full diving set on the new mannequin, named Bob, and take it diving with them, saving them having to practice life-saving on a team member.
The new kit will allow beginners to try out diving before they purchase their own diving suit, and will mean other members no longer have to lend their kit out when someone joins for the first time.
Open water instructor John Dodsworth, who has been chairman of the club for five years, said the lending of kit to beginners had caused problems over the years. He said: “All we want is to allow people to come for as cheap as possible and let people dive, but we struggle to do it. You have to pick up all your kit, bring it up and dry it after. It’s a logistical nightmare.
“We often get young, small women that need something smaller. At the moment we have a very small 19-year-old who doesn’t fit into anything.”
The club helps members to achieve the CMAS, a globally recognised diving qualification. Beginners start with a course lasting three to eight weeks, depending on the pace at which they want to take.
Following the grant, the club has ordered kit in a variety of different sizes, including a smaller and lighter cylinder. Tony Bates, 44, has been with the club for a year. He is training to become a dive leader, before becoming an instructor, and has put the new mannequin through its paces.
He said: “I can practice my rescue techniques and it doesn’t have to involve anybody else. It was nice to hear that we had been awarded the grant and that we will be able to say we’re a club with its own kit, it makes you look a little more professional.
“It’s a very friendly club, they call themselves the friendly divers. Sometimes you get to a diving school, you finish the course and that’s it. Here, all the instructors are instructors for the pleasure of it rather than any financial gain.”