“Special day with surfers”

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Delighted squeals echoed across Pebbles Beach as the surf community brought water-filled joy to scores of children last Saturday morning.

The event was the annual For The Love Of Surfing, and this year more than 50 special needs children, as well as volunteers from the surfing community, took part in the two-hour event.

This was the ninth year for the affair, and Barry Banfield, one of the surfers who, along with Melanie Pitcher, came up with the idea, was pleased with how it has grown.

“Over the years it’s kinda evolved into an annual thing and all the surf schools come and help. It’s just really the surf community giving back to the kids,” he explained, while he described this year’s turnout of children as “amazing”.

The children were drawn from the A.C. Graham Development Centre, Sunshine Early Stimulation Centre and Derrick Smith School and Vocational Centre.

“We love what we do; we love surfing and we want to share the love we have for surfing with others. This is the perfect way for us to do it and come together as a community and share the love,” Banfield told THE NATION.

He said the surfing community intended to continue the event because of the positive impact it had on the lives of the children.

Hadyn Rhynd, one of the surfers who volunteered their time, said many of the children had been looking forward to the event since summer. Many, he added, were repeats.

Meanwhile, executive director of Variety The Children’s Charity, Donnah Russell, said the charity had sent invitations to 50 children. More turned up.

“We have been doing this since 2011 and it started with about a dozen.

“When these children get in the water, there is equality all around. They squeal and enjoy it just as much as any [other] child would. When they hit the water, when they get on that surfboard, they are just children and we are so happy to be able to do this event,” Russell said, as she thanked Courtesy Garage for its sponsorship.

She added the day was also a welcome respite for the parents since taking care of a special needs child was “a 24/7, 365-day-a-year job”. (HLE)