#Surfing - Surfers from across the North West paired up to take part in a unique event to raise money for mental health charity Aware NI last week.
Teams of surfers took to Portrush East Strand on Sunday 20 March to perform tricks and manoeuvres in pairs in an attempt to impress the experienced judges.
The tandem surfing competition, the first of its kind in Northern Ireland, raised over £300 (€372) for Aware NI.
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,” he said.
“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."
Russell explained that surfing "has had positive effect on people and clients of ours with mental health issues which is why we have chosen 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 gregwallace.co.uk, garymccall.co.uk, couconoutdoor.com, Brew Note Portrush & 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 NI.
“The benefits of physical exercise for mental health are 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.”