A group of stroke survivors have been able to enjoy some of North Devon’s fabulous surf thanks to a special project.
Peter Fackrell from Bideford and Tamsyn Fruin from Ilfracombe were among a group of five having surf sessions at Croyde Bay as part of the Active Lives After Stroke project.
The project has been funded by the National Lottery and Sport England to help stroke survivors stay active with the help of peer support groups, and sessions are organised by the Stroke Association and surf therapy charity the Wave Project.
The group were supported by instructors from Surf South West and Wave Project volunteers using the latest adaptive equipment, including an adaptive surfboard and a beach wheelchair.
For 73-year-old Peter, who had a stroke while in hospital after a heart attack last year, it was the first time he had been surfing since leaving the Royal Navy more than 40 years ago.
His stroke left him with weakness on his left side, but that hasn't stopped him getting in the sea again.
"When I joined the stroke group I was told I'd be going surfing and I really didn't think it would happen," said Peter, who served in the Navy for 16 years as a radar operator.
"The surfers looking after us were absolutely brilliant. So helpful. I absolutely loved every minute of it. It was wonderful. I didn't think I would ever be able to do anything like that again."
"When I told my wife I was going to be going surfing she said 'Don't be so stupid'. Now I've done it she says 'Right, now you're going to go swimming with us.'"
Tamsyn, 47, had a stroke while on holiday in Thailand last year.
She said: "I was super fit before the stroke which was in my favour. I used to do Tough Mudders and kick boxing.
"I've been fortunate not to have any physical effects from the stroke but I've been left dyslexic, I struggle to read, have memory problems and struggle with confidence.
"I've been feeling down for a while and going surfing gave me the real boost that I needed. I loved it. The guys were great."
Ian Bennett, Wave Project North Devon co-ordinator, said: "Everyone involved had an amazing experience. The smiles on the faces and the hoots of laughter said it all. Everyone who was involved - participants and volunteers - can't wait to do it again."
Sport England national partnerships manager Kirsty McCoubrey said: "Getting active when you have a long term health condition can be hugely beneficial to your physical and mental wellbeing. But the barriers to getting active can feel overwhelming for anyone with one or more long term health conditions.
"This project tackles the barriers to activity head on, supporting stroke survivors to experience the joy of being in the waves and surfing.
"We hope to see Peter and Tamsyn continue to take to the waves with other stroke survivors and look forward to supporting the Stroke Association to continue this great work."
The charities are now looking for funding to help more people who have been affected by stroke enjoy the benefits of surf therapy.
If you are a stroke survivor, funder, potential volunteer or activity instructor and would like to get involved with the project, contact Sonya Webb on firstname.lastname@example.org.