A proud group of divers can finally plan for an exciting future following help from the PFC TRUST.
The Hartlepool Divers Club has received funding that has allowed a long-term goal to materialise.
The 53-year-old members’ club is building its own headquarters at Hartlepool Marina having acquired the land by spending hard earned member generated funds.
The diving club is a not-for-profit organisation and as such is run on a purely volunteer basis by its member elected officials with all profits being reinvested back into the club and its facilities/equipment.
The PFC Trust’s involvement has given them the financial support to allow the members to construct a purpose-built club complete with boathouse, compressor room, filling station, bar and lecture room.
Geoff Leighton, the chairman of the Divers Club, said:
“I know this might sound daft coming from a 66-year-old bloke, but this funding has helped towards fulfilling a dream for myself and all the membership.
“We had our ideas and hopes for our own purpose-built facility. The funding amount has allowed us to get the build structure almost weathertight and what we have left of the funding will allow us to seal the building.
“We are very lucky to have a good array of skilled tradesmen, professionals and willing volunteers as members of the club. All of the building work has been completed thus far by them, plus friends and ex-members, in their own time.
“This has allowed us to use the PFC Trust funding for building materials and save on labour costs, thus getting us to the stage we are at with the build. We are nearly there and the internal fit out is the next stage.
“We had some money in the bank, but we took a chance and sank the whole lot on buying the land and the funding was needed to build the new club on it.
“There was so much uncertainty before receiving the PFC Trust funding. We can now plan ahead. This building will allow us to take control of our own future now.”
The Divers Club regenerates itself by training new divers who in turn become club members and contribute to the club.
Having not been able to train new divers for the past three years due to not having club facilities and the pandemic, it has six trainees being taught to dive by the club’s own instructors.
It was set up 53 years ago in the Smallcrafts Club and Hartlepool Divers has previously moved to three other sites within the Marina area, including sharing Middleton House since 2000.
Geoff has been a member since swapping the football field aged 36 to try out diving at Mill House Leisure Centre in 1991.
He said: “I have been associated with the sea throughout my life. I enjoyed fishing and thought fishing might get me interested in diving, so when I tried it I was hooked.”
Following Geoff’s training and diving development he has been on the committee for the majority of the time since.
As chairman he is incredibly proud to be part of the team leading the next chapter in the future of the Divers Club and creating a legacy for all current and future divers in the town.
Geoff, from Seaton Carew, said: “This has been four years in the making, probably longer. If we carried on the way we were paying rent in the previous accommodation we would have run out of money and ceased to exist.
“We want this new club building to be available for community use too and have other organisations within the town interested in using the facility.
“We, the members, started the work on it a year ago. The building is just weeks away from being weathertight. Hopefully in early 2022 we will have an opening day.”
The Divers Club has two fully equipped boats, its own compressor, electronic teaching aids and qualified instructors within the club. It teaches under the auspices of the British Sub-Aqua Club.
The PFC Trust, set up to help the people of Hartlepool two years ago, is proud to have helped ideas become reality.
The Trust’s co-founder Frances Connolly said:
“'Hartlepool as a traditional sea port should have the best possible facilities around the marina and what the club members have done on a really tight budget is miraculous. "It would not be out of place anywhere in the world so we are proud to have supported it for the people of Hartlepool.”