Introducing Arnica Ambassadors Surfability

For the past decade Wales has been lucky enough to have an adaptive and inclusive surf school in Caswell Bay in the Gower, run by a wonderful organisation called Surfability UK. Surfability’s mission is to make surfing accessible to everyone. This non-profit Community Interest Company relies heavily on dedicated and inspiring volunteers, and support from surfers’ families and carers, who help young surfers achieve their surfing goals.

Surfability coaches Ben Clifford and Toby Williams also compete internationally including the World Adaptive Surfing Championships in California every year. Head coach and director Ben recently co-wrote the International Surfing Association Adaptive Surf Instructor Qualification. This qualification, based off the operating procedures developed at Surfability UK, is setting a world standard for adaptive surf instructing.

Weleda is delighted to include Surfability’s coaches - Tom, Grace, Toby and Ben - as Ambassadors in our Arnica Ambassador programme which encourages exceptional effort and adventure in sport and fitness, whether that is trying something that is particularly challenging or unusual, or showing remarkable determination and tenacity.

We chatted to coaches Tom Barber and Grace Griffiths about their work at Surfability and how they keep fit and well.

When was Surfability UK first founded and what inspired its founders?
Surfability was founded in 2013 and it was inspired by an adaptive surfing weekend in Cornwall.

What is the ethos of Surfability?
The ethos of surfability is to get as many people in the water as possible, regardless of any additional needs they may have.

How many of you are there in the team?
There are 14 of us on our team.

Can surfing be adapted for all sorts of physical disability or learning differences?
Yes, so we adapt both our process by which we deliver the lessons, and the equipment that we do those lessons with, to suit each surfer individually.

What age range of young people do you typically coach at Surfability?

We coach anyone from the age of 6, up to people in their 80s.

Are there any other similar organisations, and do you share ideas and experiences?
Yes, our founder Ben travels all over the world collaborating with various organisations delivering adaptive surf coach training, such as Access Surf Hawaii.

What have the highlights of Surfability been to date?
In 2016 we had our first seated tandem board built for us. In 2019 our founder Ben won a Pride of Britain Award. And in 2020 we had our centre built by the DIY SOS television series team.

What are the particular challenges for coaches, to stay injury free? What problems do you typically experience?

Typically we experience overuse injuries from just being in the water for so many hours, but we can also occasionally get ill from sewage in the water (if there’s been a sewage discharge or release).

What preventative measures do you take, so you can keep doing what you love?
Tom: I do resistance training, and also control my diet to help reduce any inflammation.

Do you have a favourite Weleda product and what do you like about it?

Grace: My favourite Weleda product is probably the Arnica Muscle Soak. I find after a day in the water it just helps me relax and really helps with my recovery. I also use Weleda Skin Food: I am in the sea every single day and the saltwater just strips my skin bare and Skin Food helps replenish all of that moisture, it’s great.
Tom: My favourite is probably the Arnica spray, which helps particularly with my shoulder but all general aches and grumbles.

Quick-fire Quiz

Favourite season?
Tom: Autumn
Grace: Spring

Favourite surf spot?
Tom: Llangennith
Grace: Rhossili

Preferred relaxation?
Tom: cold shower
Grace: a good book

Food craving after surfing?
Tom: chips!
Grace: a good burger from a local café

Bath or shower?
Tom: shower
Grace: bath

Spectator sport?
Tom: football
Grace: adaptive surfing!

Guilty pleasure?

Tom: body boarding
Grace: chocolate

Daily mantra?
Tom: Go surfing, be happy!
Grace: Eat, surf, repeat!

Surfability's favourite products