Special adaptive surf sessions in South Shields help lift the lives of young hospice users and their families

People of all abilities have been having a blast at the beach, thanks to a new hook-up between a hospice and surf school – with a little help from expert designers.

Children and young adults with progressive, life-shortening conditions got to hit the water thanks to St Oswald’s Hospice teaming up with South Shields Surf CIC.

With the help of hospice physiotherapist Amanda McCleery and her team, users have been able to take part in adaptive surf sessions with Nick Jones from the CIC – and they have been a big hit.

The project started in 2021. But this summer, riding on a wave of enthusiasm from the children, the team wanted to up their game – and found the perfect partners to help them create a chair board to open up sessions to even more people.

Children from St Oswald's Hospice, taking part in South Shields Surf CIC for their last session of the season on Thursday afternoon. Keira Moore on the adapted surf board

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Beach Access North East provided the adaptive board and with the expertise of Peacocks Medical Group, a chair was sourced.

The team then worked with East Coast Fibreglass Supplies to fit it to the board.

Keira Moore, age 12, from Jarrow, took to the chair board for the first time and was a natural.

Mum Terri, said: “Keira’s been having short breaks at St Oswald’s Hospice since she was two and it’s her favourite place ever.

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"She’s not been able to surf because she’s got bad circulation but the staff have done everything possible to make sure she could try.

“What made it even more special was that Keira had her big brother, Louis, age 14, surfing alongside her too. Keira was all smiles as she kept looking over from the chair board to see Louis standing up on his surf board. It was the first time they’ve done an activity like this at the same time. It was brilliant seeing them together.”

Nick Jones, from South Shields Surf CIC said: “We were so pleased when St Oswald’s Hospice approached us as co-incidentally we were looking into adaptive surfing at the time.

"They came down and jumped in with us and it’s taken off from there. And now we have the chair board, we’re over the moon with how it’s going.

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"Each week has got better and better as we get used to using the equipment and the kids love it. The result of this is that it’s changed what’s available for the people of the North East.”

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Joss Thompson, who is the Matron of the Children and Young Adults Service, added: “St Oswald’s Hospice is all about providing quality time for everyone and we do so much more for those we care for than people think we do.”

The chair board really embraces that ethos and we’re so thrilled for the children and families and can’t thank Amanda and the team enough for making this happen.”

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A number of youngsters who receive support from St Oswald’s Hospice enjoyed their day and taking part in an experience that otherwise they wouldn’t have been able to.

South Shields boy Michael Abraham, age 11, has also loved his time in the water.

Dad Brian added: “Michael was a bit nervous at first but once he was in the water he loved it. It’s had a really positive impact. Water can trigger his seizures but he’s been fine and seems to thrive on the surfing sessions.”