THE Prime Minister has praised the “great leadership and compassion” of a North Devon couple who help teens to conquer their demons by taking them surfing.

Wave Project coordinators Helen and Joel Blackman, from West Down, have been named Points of Light by David Cameron for changing youngsters’ lives by showing them the thrill of riding waves.

The pair’s dedication helps teenagers and children overcome emotional problems during a course designed to develop confidence and life skills.

When they heard about the Wave Project, keen surfers Helen and Joel jumped at the chance to demonstrate the virtues of the sport.

They run two six-week programmes at Croyde Bay in April and September.

Everyone who takes part is given a mentor from a pool of 25 volunteers from the local surfing community who offer intensive one-to-one support.

Those who have completed the course report feeling more motivated, confident and resilient.
Charlotte Drayton is the mother of Bradley Drayton, one of the young people who has benefited from the project.
She said her family was “incredibly grateful” to Helen, Joel and everyone at the Wave Project for the positive impact the experience had on her son’s life.

“We thank you for giving him the opportunity to be part of such an inspiring, motivated and friendly team,” she said.

“His time spent on the course boosted his confidence, brought a smile to his face and gave him hope and belief and that is priceless.”
According to Helen, the sea can be a place to heal, escape and make new friends.

She said: “Over the past two years we’ve met some amazing young people and it’s been incredibly rewarding to see them blossom and gain confidence in and out of the water.

“Personally I find there’s no better remedy than the freedom, escape and adventure that the sea offers.
“It’s a really simple concept – we take them surfing, encourage them lots, we listen to them and have loads of fun.

“Some of the young people we work with don’t normally have access to the beach, so we’re really excited to be able to provide this service and support.”

Prime minister David Cameron praised Helen and Joel’s “great leadership and compassion” in bringing together Croyde’s surfing community to support young people recovering from emotional upheavals