30 May 2024

‘Onwards and downwards’ as woman marks 1,000th dive

A Withernsea woman has hit a once-in-a-lifetime milestone completing 1,000 underwater dives in 21 years.

Marie England and her husband Darren started diving in 2001, and they soon became “completely hooked”. Over the past 21 years, they have been diving all over the world and Marie has told the Gazette about some of her most favoured diving memories.

She said: “We have dived with dolphins in their natural environment, seen thousands of sharks and dozens of mantas. I had a turtle swim up to me and ‘kiss’ my mask, and had seals play with us. We’ve been lucky to find seahorses in deserted bays and see the coral spawn.”

I think what I love about diving is the possibilities of what you might see. There are so many different types of diving to try and most every diver will have a bucket list. You can forget everything else and be in an amazing environment. It can be chilled or extremely challenging. Getting caught in the current on a drift dive is exhilarating. I love it. Visiting a wreck can be thought-provoking and eerie. I think being a diver becomes part of who you are.”

Marie feared her passion for diving had come to an end during the pandemic when she dislocated her shoulder, resulting in nerve damage to her arm. However, with hard work, determination and help from her husband, she recovered and was able to dive once again.

Her 1,000th dive was in a bay called Ras ilHobz in the south of Gozo, near Malta, supported by Darren and their retired friends, Jo and Chris Elson.

Marie added: “Being able to dive again has meant so much. Diving in Gozo this time of year is quite cold. That said, it’s the perfect time to see macro sea life such as flabellinas – they are a small type of brightly coloured, beautiful underwater slugs from 2mm to 3-4cm. It felt more than fantastic to be back in the water. Onwards and downwards.”