Meet Darren ‘First-time Frother’ Edwards, Surfing England’s latest Adaptive Squad Member
Adaptive Surfing is all about pushing the boundaries of what is perceived as possible! Adaptive Surfing, otherwise known as para-surfing enables surfing to be adapted to be inclusive of people with all disabilities. The immense feeling generated from going surfing should be for everyone, no matter the challenge.
So, for Darren Edwards, Surfing was a challenge he was ready to take on following his life changing accident 2 years ago. We were lucky enough to be with him on this epic day and make his dream of surfing a reality. Now, 3 months on, and fresh off the plane from a surf trip to California we are catching up with Darren ‘first-time frother’ Edwards on his experience in the water at our English Adaptive Surfing Open, sharing his story and letting you guys know a little more…
So, first thing, I’m keen to learn a little more about you, where did you grow up and when did you first try surfing?
Ooh, I was born in London and grew up there to a rebellious teen and then we moved to Shropshire.
And surfing, yea a couple of times, I really liked it, we’d have a go on holiday in Pembs or Cornwall. It was great!
Epic! I’ve been reading your blog; Is it ok to tell us a little more about your accident?
It was the last climb of the day, about a 30 ft climb, a tricky one, it took me a couple of times to get up it.
I rigged up an abseil and the last thing I shouted to Matt was some banter about his Tinder date that night, my final words ‘I’ll tell you when I’m back down safe’, and with that something gave way under my feet and took me by surprise.
I dropped so quickly, I dropped about 10 ft, landed on a ledge that was about 10 inches wide and as I hit it, it pole-volted me off back first. I fell vertically and hit the deck next to Matt.
I was about to tumble off the next tier which would have killed me. The next thing this almighty pain goes through my back and its as Matt’s jumped on me to stop me going further.
I was in pretty hot water. It was about a 2-hour test of endurance and courage whilst the mountain rescue team and coastguard were getting everything sorted.
I’m lucky to be alive.
What an ordeal. That leads me on, I was wondering, obviously this must have been the toughest thing in your life. What were the first tools that began to give you motivation back and positivity?
I think in a way it was life experiences before the accident that kind of prepared me for it. I think for me climbing, whether that was in the Alps or UK, being in a sport where you can progressively test your confidence and courage and grow as a person and I’d gone through selection for the SAS Reserves and that is very high pressured, the normal where they’re shouting at you ‘pick yourself up and get yourself up the mountain’.
The biggest thing for me and the biggest motivation for being positive was I was still young, and I was scared.
It was either step up or step back.
It’s an amazing incredible thing about you, that survival instinct ‘I’ve got to get through this, I’ve got my life ahead of me’, that’s just awesome!
We’re here to talk more about surfing, you’ve recently got back in the water, how did you link up with Spike and get involved?
It was purely from in hospital thinking right ok let’s look at the options for things I can do, a big part of that was Instagram, it’s like carrot on a stick and I remember seeing Spike Kane, and I messaged him.
He told me about his injury, he said why don’t you come down to the English National Adaptive Open and it went from there.
Me and Kat turned up on the day, put a rug down on the beach and one of the first things we saw was Spike wheeling past us.
One of the guys from Surfability UK came up and was like ‘shall we get you in the water’, the next thing he’s back with a wetsuit and 10 minutes later I’m getting pushed out.
It was just surreal, after the help to get you in the water, the second you turn around and that wave takes you its like a complete independence and connection with nature. I was sacred I’d lost this and after one wave I was like holy shit this is great, a few of you guys had seen and you know the smile on my face!
That’s all quite incredible. So obviously your now stoked on surfing! What’s next for you, what are you gearing up for?
I’ve just returned from 10 days in Cali – it was epic! And so cool to hang out with Spike and spend time in the water, all I want to do is surf! I’ve also spent time at Surf Snowdonia, good waves, consistent and it was nice to develop. It was a lesson in terms of reading the waves. I’m going again, I’m developing an expensive habit!
At least it’s a healthy one!
Yea, exactly! Me and Matt (Matt Harwood is Surf Coach for Team England Adaptive) have been talking about, saying ‘why not to life and opportunities and applying for selections for the Adaptive Team’. It might be ambitious but why not!
We’re stoked for you! If you don’t put your name in the hat, you never know!
Darren, thank you so much for your time, it’s great to catch up and I’m totally buzzing to see what’s next for you!
To find out more about Darren, and read his fascinating blog, visit his website: www.strengththroughadversity.co.uk/