Surfers work in tandem to help people affected by depression

Tandem Surf Competition organiser Carl Russell and Kieran Hughes | Fundraising Officer for AWARE NI. PIC: Jude Gordon/
Tandem Surf Competition organiser Carl Russell and Kieran Hughes | Fundraising Officer for AWARE NI. PIC: Jude Gordon/

Surfers from across the North West paired up to take part in a unique event to raise money for a local mental health charity last week.

The tandem surfing competition, run by Portrush-based surfing school Troggs, was raised money for AWARE, who provide vital services for people affected by depression across Northern Ireland.

The teams of surfers took to Portrush East Strand last Sunday (March 20) to perform tricks and manoeuvres in pairs in an attempt to impress the experienced judges.

The tandem surfing competition, the first of it’s kind in Northern Ireland, raised over £300 for AWARE.

The event was the brainchild of Carl Russell, Owner of Troggs Surf School, after some of his own clients recommended the benefits of surfers in overcoming the own depression.

“The idea came about from my Brother Jamie Russell and I realising that we could experience surfing together on the same board when surf conditions weren’t favourable for our shortboards,” explained Carl.

“We ended up having as much fun if not more tandem surfing as we did surfing normally. Then the link for the competition was made to show that the proven research that surfing helps depression is a real tool that can be used.

“This charity event was aimed at raising money for the Aware NI, a mental health charity focusing on Depression and Bipolar.

“Surfing has had positive effect on people and clients of ours with Mental Health issues which is why we have chose this charity, plus this professional organisation really helps people.

“We run custom surf programmes for groups affected by the issues mentioned. Our event is due to run again September/October 2016 and will be even bigger.

“Thanks to all our Sponsors,,, Brew Note Portrush and AC Electronics Coleraine.”

Only last year the French seaside town of Biarritz become the first in the world to prescribe surfing lessons as a way to treat depression to heart disease. Some 20 doctors are taking part in a pilot scheme in Europe’s surf capital to encourage the notoriously pill-popping French to cut back on medication and take to the waves.

“AWARE fully endorse the message that physical exercise cannot only improve your physical health but also your mental health,” said Kieran Hughes, Fundraising Officer at AWARE.

“The benefits of physical exercise on mental health in widely recognised and surfing is one of the best examples of that. Participants are getting excellent exercise but also getting out in the open and close to nature which can only be a positive thing.

“We would like to sincerely thank Carl and everyone at Troggs Surf School for raising money for AWARE. All the money raised will go towards AWARE’s Support Services and education programmes to help people affected by depression across Northern Ireland.”

For more information on what AWARE does visit