Analox have donated an O2EII nitrox analyser to help a 71-year old man complete his Duke of Edinburgh’s (DofE) Award Diamond Challenge.
John Gilkison is a former Senior Site Manager, for Mansell, who worked on heritage sites and special projects.
Since retiring he has put together a bucket list of things he wants to achieve and one of them is to complete 100 dives.
John first became interested in diving at the age of 65 when he visited his eldest son Darren in Hong Kong who teaches courses for divers.
Originally Darren was a Design Engineer and Mechanical Engineer for sea scooters, but he had to learn to test them, so he was sent on a scuba diving course by the company he worked for to become a qualified diver.
Darren later bought the company, and is now the Managing Director/PADI Course Director of Splash Hong Kong.
John said: “My son invited me to the pool while he was teaching a class, and suggested I could do some swimming. But when I got there I decided to join the young students and learn about diving, and it progressed from there. I now visit my son once a year and I do different diving courses which is really enjoyable.
“Some of the courses I have completed include Open Water, Advanced Open Water, Rescue Diver and Master Scuba Diver and Specials in Underwater Photography, Dry Suit, Enriched Air Diver and Thresher Shark Diver.”
John has dived all around the world, from his hometown in Kent, to Philippines, Indonesia, Malta, Greece, Hong Kong, Australia and New Zealand.
He has now done 89 dives, and his decision to complete 100 was encouraged by his Grandson Scott, who has achieved his Gold DofE Award.
The DofE Award is for 14 to 24 year olds and there are three levels of the programme that they can take part in, which are Bronze, Silver and Gold awards.
Each award has four core elements which are volunteering, physical, skills and an expedition.
To celebrate the DofE Award’s 60th anniversary, people of any age are invited to take part in the Diamond Challenge, which asks them to take on their own adventure, personal or skill challenge.
Participants in the Diamond Challenge are asked to raise a minimum of £60 each towards the award’s funds, which will enable even more people to take part in the award scheme by paying the costs for underprivileged children.
After completing the challenge they will receive a Diamond Challenge pin and a certificate.
Upon hearing the news of the Diamond Challenge, Scott decided to encourage John to take part, and his son Darren suggested his challenge should be to fill the rest of his diving logbook and complete 100 dives.
Darren has now organised his father’s trip to the Philippines which takes place in March, where he will be diving with sharks in the Tubbataha and Apo Reef’s.
John said: “I have swam with sharks including Whitetip sharks, Blacktip and Thresher sharks. I have also swam alongside the Mola molas (oceanic sun fish), and it was awesome.
“There are 17 planned dives when I’m there so I need to do 11 to reach my target. To get to 100 would be quite something, and I’m really looking forward to it.”
John will be outside of the UK for a month and visiting his son in Hong Kong. During his time there he will be travelling to the Philippines and spending seven days diving.
John prefers to dive on nitrox and he used to own a nitrox analyser which he took with him on all his diving trips. However, he accidentally left it in Hong Kong during one of his trips and is in urgent need of a new one.
John said: “I couldn’t get one from the diving shop in time for my trip so I contacted Analox and asked if they had one in stock I could use. When they said they could provide me with one it put a big smile on my face.
“I’ll be taking my new analyser with me to the Philippines, and I intend on going on further diving trips with it. It is a generous donation and I want to thank all at Analox for their help and support in my DofE challenge.”
Ticking things off the ‘bucket list’
Since retiring John has been crossing off several things on his bucket list including gaining further qualifications.
John has been presented with a Masters Joiners Certificate, and has also earned a City and Guilds Professional Recognition Award at Level 6 in Leadership and Management.
He would also like to do a masters degree in either management or construction, but would prefer to specialise in heritage and management.
John is also an adrenaline junkie as he has previously went white water rafting and now plans to jump out of a plane at 12,000ft.
John added: “I like to work with a challenge and I’ve been doing them ever since I retired. Luckily I have an understanding wife who puts up with me doing these things.”
If you would like to support John’s DofE challenge visit www.justgiving.com/SandJohn
Author: Araminta Hartley, Content Writer
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