07 March 2005

He's a master diver - and only 12

A 12-year-old from Plymouth has qualified as the youngest master scuba diver in the South West.

And the achievement of James Douglas, from Mannamead, is even more remarkable as the youngster only started diving 12 months ago.

The St Boniface College pupil's achievements have been matched by his parents, Lee and Ellen Douglas, who also started only a year ago and have both qualified as master divers.

Enthusiasts aged under 18 can learn to dive as juniors from the age of 10. James will now have to wait until he is an adult before he can try for more qualifications to dive to greater depths.

James carried out his training with Barbican-based dive centre Aquanauts, and owner Brian Allen said he was extremely keen and dedicated.

"What is very impressive is that he has gone from nothing to this in just a year," he said.

"To get to master diver he first did his junior open water course, then his junior advanced and then his rescue diver course. As a junior he is qualified to dive to a maximum depth of 21 metres.

"He has also done five specialities such as underwater photography and dry suit diving.

"He is also first aid qualified. He has achieved a lot - the rescue diver course is a hard programme and the exam is extremely tough.

"He cannot go any higher than he is at the moment until he is 18 years old."

Mr Allen said that to gain so many qualifications so quickly was quite unusual and James had a strong interest in all aspects of the disicpline.

"It is very unusual to do so much so quickly. He's just very dedicated to diving," he said.

"As a pupil he is just very interested in everything to do with the sport.

"He is very keen and whenever we have gone out he has always managed to keep everyone on the dive boat entertained."

James's dad Lee, who works as a roofer, said that he was very proud of his son and that he was desperate to give the sport a go after seeing it on television.

"I am very proud. He got the bug to go diving before he even tried it after seeing it on the television," he said.

"He would love to go on now and do it professionally. He would like to get his own dive school.

"Myself and my wife started at the same time and we were out diving again this weekend and we dive every couple of weeks together.

"It really helps bring us all close together. I used to watch him play rugby but now we can all go out together and participate."


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