From Riches To Rollers To Regs
Many people have asked me (Kerrie) how on earth I ended up leaving sunny Spain to buy a UK dive centre and totally convert into a cooler water diver…. The answer begins a long time ago.
When I was at uni back in cough, cough, splutter, (Leeds, BA joint honours Business and Spanish) I wanted money. Money, money, money, money (I had a lot less than none!) – so I applied for the best summer paid job I could find, in fact I made about 200 applications and got a summer internship at an investment bank in London. Somehow I manoeuvred my way into a job offer for when I left uni, and my 7 year career climb began. It went pretty well actually and I made the heady heights of Vice President before becoming pretty disillusioned with the politics and back stabbing and beat a hasty retreat.
However, one huge bonus had been that I now had a bit of money to spend – and I decided to fulfil a lifelong desire and train to scuba dive. Little Miss Competitive (I’ve changed, not) would book onto long weekends in the Red Sea (as you do, when you’re a banker), and moved through the PADI courses over a few years before stopping, momentarily, at Divemaster.
Back in London, before I’d handed in my notice, I decided to give working for myself a bash. I’d had some work done on my (posh riverside) flat and was disgusted by the lazy, sexist, moronic builders – which led me to my light bulb moment; a female building company. A few weeks later, A Woman’s Touch was born, eventually growing to almost global domination. Well almost, I had about 6 branches in the UK and one in Spain, but it felt pretty big, and actually had about 70 staff at its peak. Anyway, all good, solid, business experience and I got to live in Spain for a while.
During this time I’d met a pretty special fireman (long story!) and got knocked up (!) with our first child. The recession hit and I decided to close the business and concentrate on writing a book that Haynes has asked me to do, on DIY for women (available from all good book stores, if you are really desperate for present ideas!).
Once sprog one arrived we decided we’d like to rekindle our love affair with Spain and just after sprog two appeared on the scene we upped sticks and made a break for it. Cue life changing event #7 or thereabouts.
I took my regs into a cute little dive centre on the seafront, and basically never left. The owner was easy on the eye and the chilled atmosphere just drew me in. I started working there as a Divemaster and guide and studied for my Instructor Development Course in Spain and passed my Instructor Exam.
The time came to move back to the UK so sprog 1 could start school, and my long suffering husband conceded that I now wanted to stay in the dive industry forever. One of his fellow firefighters mentioned Ocean Turtle Diving was looking for a manager, so I made the call. Turned out it was a bit more than a manager they were looking for, they were in fact selling. I pleaded with the bank manager (all funds from banking days long since dried up / dived / travelled / drunk) and the next thing we knew, I was signing on the dotted line as the proud new owner of Ocean Turtle Diving!
That was December 2014 and after a hard but immensely fun first year, now in 2016, we really feel like we have our feet under the table, finger on the pulse, singing from the same hymn sheet, shifting the goalposts, thinking outside the……. Sorry, old banking habits die hard! We’re very, very happy and are surrounding by an amazing team and incredible friends and divers. Thank you!