BLESMA Scuba Diving - Red Sea 21-28 Sep

Last October BLESMA organised a scuba diving rehabilitation event in the Red Sea for 15 members. The event was a massive success with 39 diver qualifications gained, a total of 224 dives completed and a total of 5 days 4 hours and 33 minutes spent underwater. The week was spent on a liveaboard dive boat and between dives much time was spent swapping stories, experiences and advice; for some this was the first time post amputation to meet others who had travelled further down the recovery road.

See the video:

YouTube - BLESMA Red Sea Scuba Diving Rehabilitation Project

What's it about:

:: Scuba Jack :: descend & discover...

Telegraph Christmas Charity Appeal: "I cannot sing Blesma's praises enough" - Telegraph

For those who have dived you will appreciate that it is a physically and mentally challenging pursuit and more so for those with disabilities. But it is also an excellent form of rehabilitation for injured limbs and troubled minds.

Another trip is organised this year (21-28 Sep 10) with several still serving new members. Like many service charities, BLESMA often struggles to fund events that are expensive and relies entirely on donations. I know that many of you have already given to BLESMA and some have contributed to this paricular event. But if you can spare a quid or so then it would be a massive help.

You can donate at:

John Strutt is fundraising for British Limbless Ex-Service Men's Association (Blesma)

I also have a poster in pdf format if anyone would like to stick it up at work ... big file so I can e-mail it to those interested ... pm me.


We would also like to make this a regular rehabilitation event in the BLESMA calender so if you know any buisness' out there who would like to sponsor ... or simply donate.
hopefully some of my bucks ended up there!! Good luck with sponsor finding k13


Book Reviewer
We would also like to make this a regular rehabilitation event in the BLESMA calender so if you know any buisness' out there who would like to sponsor ... or simply donate.
I have no contacts there or reason to feel that they would want to sponsor you....but you might ask ANDARK in Hamble.

Spookily, I was talking to a young feller at Headley about this -under the Battle Back scheme - just this afternoon.....if I may, I will point him in your direction....

(wow.........that's a bit weird.......if a feather falls from the ceiling at this point I am going to freak RIGHT out....)

Le Chevre
Hopefully did and much appreciated ... what's the next money raiser?
I want to do a bungee jump :D A really big FO bungee jump! I may wait for the road bridge over the Hoover dam to be finished.....lets face it, I'll need a super-structure :D
My dit from the diving trip ...


For the second year running I was fortunate enough to be selected to attend a BLESMA scuba diving trip to Egypt. This years rehabilitation event saw 17 divers (including 3 instructors) meeting up at Gatwick and flying to Hurghada to join the dive vessel MY Liberty for a 7 day diving trip around the northern Red Sea. Those BLESMA members attending sported 8 below knee and 3 above knee amputees, 2 with loss of eyesight and 1 with limited use of lower limbs. 5 of the 17 were completely new to diving and the others at various levels of experience. There were 3 ‘sappers’ on board including myself, one still serving despite losing a leg above knee to an IED in Afghanistan.

The week proved to be exceptionally demanding with 3 dives offered on the first day followed by 4 dives a day for the remainder of the week and 2 dives on the last day. Most of those attending took various courses throughout the week qualifying as either Open Water or Advanced Open Water divers. Additionally several took speciality courses in deep, night, boat and NITROX diving. Whilst some divers missed the odd dive during the week, at least half a dozen completed the full 21 dives; I completed all 21 with an accumulated dive time of 17 hours and 3 minutes.

The diving itself was varied, demanding and exceptionally interesting with time being spent on both reefs and wrecks teeming with fish of all size, shapes and colour. Rays, turtles and dolphins visited us underwater whilst barracuda, lion fish and huge moray eels darted about looking for prey. The spectacular and wonderfully coloured coral was home to an amazing array of marine life both large and small and all divers took an avid interest in identifying species encountered during the dives.

For me there were two highlights to the diving, the first being three dives spent on the SS Thistlegorm. An armed merchantman launched in 1940, Thistlegorm was bombed and sunk by 2 Heinkel HE-111 bombers on 6th October 1941. She was at safe anchorage on her fourth voyage carrying supplies to Alexandria and sunk with the loss of 4 sailors and 5 RN gunners. Discovered by Jacques Cousteau in 1955, the Thistlegorm today is considered the No1 dive for diver’s world-wide. Revenue from dive trips to the Thistlegorm now raises more tourist income in Egypt than any other attraction, including the pyramids!

The Thistlegorm is not a dive for the feint-hearted; she lies in 30m of water and is almost always washed with strong currents. To dive this old lady is an experience of mixed emotions; the wreck is a time capsule of military ordnance and every second spent diving her reveals something new. There is a steam locomotive lying upright on the seabed off her port side. The three remaining holds are full of trucks and jeeps with military motorcycles loaded on their backs. There are countless crates of Lee Enfield rifles all now concreted together but clearly identifiable. Aircraft wings and engine cowlings can be seen and one hold contains thousands of Wellington boots. The fourth hold took a direct hit and it is here that you find crate upon crate of artillery shells and several large 1000lb air dropped bombs sat on the twisted deck at a crazy angle. There are 3 bren gun carriers in this area; 1 on it’s side, 1 upside down and 1 upright, all three encrusted with coral but in good order. It is also at the fourth hold that you feel the sadness of what happened here and your thoughts turn to those poor lost souls who made the ultimate sacrifice; with so many tourist divers it is sometimes easy to forget that this exciting adventurous dive is also a war grave.

My second highlight was the last dive of the trip when we dived a 70m long Egyptian navy minesweeper, El Mina, sunk by Israeli aircraft during the Six Days War. Back in 1969, Hurghada was just a small fishing village with little importance apart from a small military airstrip. However, the Israelis identified a radar installation at the airstrip and the site was targeted by Israeli aircraft. During the raid El Mina was spotted just outside the harbour and the aircraft engaged the ship. The ship fought back quite valiantly downing at least one Israeli aircraft and seeing off the attackers. But over the next few hours the aircraft returned several times and eventually El Mina slipped below the surface to a watery grave.

She now lies on her side in 30m of water on a sandy seabed with little in the way of coral anywhere near. That said she is now well encrusted with hard corals and many fish have found a home here including huge shoals of glassfish and the ever patrolling barracuda and lion fish. What made the wreck interesting for me was that, apart from the obvious bomb damage, it was fairly intact and, being a ‘recent’ wreck, was not as encrusted with corals as older wrecks. It was very surreal finning from the stern to the bow looking in through portholes and walkways and seeing the minesweeping equipment still in place.

Whilst it’s possible to penetrate the wreck of the Thistlegorm it is not advised to enter the wreck of El Mina; the Thistlegorm has many large exit and entry holes with much light penetrating whereas El Mina is a maze of tight and lightless corridors with hazardous cables hanging everywhere. When we got to the bow of the old minesweeper I spent a few minutes looking for an unexploded Israeli bomb which I had been told was a few metres away. A quick search and I found the bomb on the sea bed and, curiosity getting the better of me, gave it a good check over! It appeared to be an American 500lb bomb with the nose fuze gone; I couldn’t see a tail fuze but it was quite heavily encrusted and, caution being the order of the day, opted for a quick photo rather than a good dig about!

The trip was a wonderful experience, not just for the diving but for the company as well. It was an opportunity to share in the experience of diving whilst meeting up with old friends and making new. The evenings were spent chatting about our experiences over a beer or two, swapping stories and listening to or giving advice. Typical of all BLESMA rehabilitation activities, the trip offered like-minded people the chance to overcome a ‘disability’ and work as a team in a challenging environment. The instructors who attended, the dive guides and all the crew of the MY Liberty worked exceptionally hard to ensure that the trip was successful and adapted to suit the needs of individuals. Looking at some of the boats full of so called ‘able-bodied’ divers brought a smile to our faces when we saw how disorganised their diving appeared to ours!

Already a dive trip is in the planning for next year and I am sure it will be equally successful; but these events come at a cost and need to be funded by donation. If you feel like giving or know of an organisation that could assist then please donate at:

John Strutt is fundraising for British Limbless Ex-Service Men's Association (Blesma)

Can still donate for future events :)


Similar threads

Latest Threads