Our PADI Instructor’s Creed.
As a scuba instructor I have the opportunity to see: Fear changed to courage, Faintheartedness converted into accomplishment, Timidity transformed into confidence, Anticipation turned into passion. As a scuba instructor I can: Open hearts and minds to the hidden beauty of nature’s creation and our obligation to protect it, Foster self-esteem in another person, Teach the value of character and integrity, Transform another human being and change a life for the better and forever
“From what we get we make a living. From what we give we make a life”. Winston Churchill
Simon Hotchkin – Director, PADI Master Instructor, PADI Re Breather Instructor, Emergency First Responder Instructor
Simon (Hotch) has been involved in training and people development often at the most senior levels for over 20 years.
Hotch’s experience allows Stellar Divers to deliver courses in a different way to the usual “chalk and talk” method. This interactive, student central approach is the real key to training success; it allows Stellar Divers to deliver the best possible experience ensuring the learning is both fun and fulfilling.
Hotch has been diving for over 25 years & has a wealth of experience in many different conditions and locations around the world. He is one of a limited number of people to hold the Shark and Ray distinctive PADI Diver speciality. Eager to develop, he progressed to Divemaster and became a PADI OWSI & EFR instructor in 2010 folowed closely by PADI MSDT then PADI IDC Staff instructor in 2012 & then achieved his PADI Closed Circuit Re Breather Instructor in 2014 & can deliver 20 PADI diver specialities. We are proud to say that Hotch received the prestigious PADI Elite Instructor award for 2013, 2014, 2015 & 2016 a great achievement and a sign of the quality and dedication we deliver.
Victoria Hotchkin – Director, PADI IDC Staff Instructor, Emergency First Responder Instructor
Vic has been diving since 2007 and is a self-confessed warm water diver having completed over 100 dives in the Indian Ocean.
More recently Vic has learnt to embrace the “fun” of UK diving, qualifying in 2012 as an Instructor. Originally a lawyer by profession, Vic runs two companies of her own as well as trying to keep Hotch and the Team in order!
“One of the best things ever, is seeing a new student get their first taste of what the underwater world has to offer and consequently I love being involved in the teaching side of things. Since starting Stellar Divers we have had the privilege of meeting so many new people but all with a common interest, diving. I am really excited to see where we can take the business but at all times remaining true to our mantra that “Diving is Fun”.
Martin Ainsworth, PADI Course Director
Martin is one of the most recognised and highly regarded PADI Course Directors in the UK, with his wife Sharon he also runs one of the most successful scuba schools in the UK. Martin lends his huge wealth of experience, maturity and professionalism to Stellar Divers as a consultant to facilitate the highest & broadest level of PADI scuba training and service available in Lincolnshire.
Martin has been diving for over 20 years starting in the UK becoming a PADI instructor in 1992. Since then Martin has been actively teaching in the UK and diving around the world in the Maldives, Australia, Bali, Borneo, Egypt, USA, Canada and the Philippines before reaching his goal of Course Director in 2003. Martin has set up dive centres in both the UK and Europe prior to developing and opening an inland dive site, the Blue Lagoon, which enabled him to map his experience in all aspects of diving into Instructor Development Courses. Martin is currently focused on running an active instructor development calendar across his two dive centres in addition to developing his own distinctive specialty courses and teaching instructor courses for other centres in the UK, Malta, Turkey and Cape Verde. Martin has consistently achieved gold status within the Course Director frequent trainer program for the last three years teaching between 50 and 100 instructor courses a year.
Martin is on Facebook
Sharon Ainsworth, PADI Course Director
We are privileged to have Sharon onboard as a consultant; not only is Sharon a highly respected PADI Course Director she is a director at Above & Below one of the most successful and respected scuba schools in the UK.
Sharon is also a leading light in ocean environmental awareness, having a Masters Degree in Aquatic Ecology Sharon is always focused on promoting environmental awareness and promoting & developing academic programs for schools and universities.
Sharon brings a fantastic energy to our professional programmes, she is a first class mentor and coach and is always keen to see people fulfil their potentials.
Sharon is on Facebook
Lance Hicks, PADI IDC Staff Instructor, Emergency First Responder Instructor
My name is Lance, I am 6” 3” tall, good looking with a hint of grey. I like socializing, and eating out.
I have been diving since 2011 and qualified as an open water diver, soon after, qualified as an advanced open water diver then on to Rescue Diver and ultimately Master Scuba Diver.
With over 400 dives under my belt including Egypt, Malta, Gozo, and the UK. I know it’s cold diving in the UK, but what makes it, is the people, you will always be made welcome from Blue Lagoon, to Stoney Cove to Egypt (Liveaboard’s) diving really is fun. I recently completed my Staff Instructor course and am looking forward to the next challenge.
In addition to my normal duties I am a qualified Wreck Instructor, Underwater Videographer Instructor, Underwater Photographer Instructor, Search and Recovery Instructor & Dry Suit Instructor.
Karl Durham, PADI Instructor, Emergency First Responder Instructor
Karl (Mr D) first learnt to dive some 20 years ago when he qualified with the British Sub Aqua Association as an Open Water Diver/Club Diver. (You should have seen the kit then! ABLJ’s (Horseshoe collar)).
He had a break from diving for a few years and then re-qualified in December 2008 in the cold waters of the UK, having undertaken the PADI Open Water Diver Course. The “Diving Bug” was back again. He continued his training, completing the PADI Advanced Open Water in March 2009 in the warmer waters of Tenerife and later qualified as a PADI Rescue Diver in March 2010. He has a number of specialities under his belt, Wreck Diver, Deep Diver, Dry Suit and Enriched Air (Nitrox ).
He has extensive experience of diving in the UK, (Inland and Sea), Tenerife, Bali and the Greek Island of Zakinthos (where they filmed part of the musical “Mama Mia”, but that does not make him a bad person?). He qualified as a Divemaster with Stellar Scuba in November 2011 and made the great leap to the ranks of PADI Open Water Scuba Instructor in October 2013. Karl says “I look to develop my diving experience “onwards and downwards” with Stellar Divers the world is your oyster (Lobster) !!!”
Chris Brightman, PADI Instructor, Emergency First Responder Instructor
Chris (Major) took up scuba diving over ten years ago at the tender age of 60.
After a career of 32 years in the Army and 5 years working for The Prince’s Trust, he felt that he needed something exciting to do in retirement. Since qualifying as an Open Water diver with Sceptre Scuba and progressing through the PADI system with them under the expert tutelage of Richard Alfrey, he has managed to get well over 500 logged dives under his weight belt.
He has dived abroad in the Maldives, the Red Sea, Kenya and the Canary Islands. UK diving has taken him to the Farne Islands, St Abbs, Mull, the Channel Islands, Plymouth, Cornwall, Swanage, Bridlington and of course good old Stoney Cove assisting Sceptre Scuba with their courses as rescue diver and divemaster. As for the future, he wants to carry on diving as long as possible and help Stellar Divers expand their vision.
What is so brilliant is the Chris became a PADI Assistant Instructor on his 71st Birthday, proving that age is certainly no barrier when it comes to scuba diving.
Russ Antoniades, PADI Instructor, Emergency First Responder Instructor
My first experience of diving was on my honeymoon in 2000; I knew straightaway I was hooked (on diving, the jury was still out on marriage!), I finally did my OW in 2004 and 16 years and 500+ dives later I’m as hooked as ever.
I became an Instructor in 2010 and my wife Hazel was one of my first students; this was one of the best decisions I ever made as it meant no more arguments over holiday diving, the only arguments now are when and where to go! Teaching non-divers is the most rewarding and enjoyable aspect of Instructing for me, I like to see people grow and improve, and I know from my own experience just how much they are going to enjoy using their new skills in a brand new environment.
I’m now happily teaching with Stellar Divers so what are you waiting for? Come diving!
Chris Houghton, PADI Assistant Instructor
Chris also Known as “Seasick” for reasons best left unexplained, has been diving since 2005 and has over 350 dives logged.
Chris qualified as a PADI Divemaster in 2012 and as a PADI Assistant Instructor in 2014. Chris is also a PADI Advanced Re Breather diver & is a certified Re Breather assistant. He really enjoys helping students develop their skills and achieve their goals.
Richard Jones – Club Manager, PADI Assistant Instructor
I first discovered the joy of scuba in 2014 when I took my open water course in the warm blue water surrounding Sharm El Sheik. Since that fateful time I’ve gone on to discover the joys of swimming around in cold, murky puddles in all weathers and I have to admit that I wouldn’t want it any other way. I enjoy UK diving so much that I can be seen hanging around the periphery of a muddy puddle most weekends throughout the year (much to the dismay of Mrs J).
So far, my diving has only taken me to UK inland and coastal sites and the Red Sea where I’ve logged over 90 dives so far. My most memorable experience to date has been to dive with grey seals off the coast of Northumberland which I would recommend that every diver puts on their bucket list.
Diving is a fantastic pastime that can take you almost anywhere in the world, where you’ll see and experience things that most people only see on TV. I cannot describe to you how thrilling (and at the same time, humbling) it is to come face to face with the aquatic world – no matter where in the world it is. As an added bonus, it’s great to share the tales afterwards with some great mates in the pub!
So if you’re considering taking up diving then I urge you give it a go – I promise that you won’t regret it. Hopefully, I’ll see you soon!
Petra Pollux, PADI Assistant Instructor (in Training)
Petra grew up in Holland where as a child she developed a fascination with clogs, having amassed a collection of around a thousand she turned her passion to bulb growing. Modesty prevails; Petra will not mention this but she produced a hybrid bulb known as the Pertonella Maximus Polluxitium, it has a beautiful blue flower that blooms in the spring and oddly has a neoprene aroma!
Petra packed her clogs and leaving Holland with a bag full of bulbs headed for the UK in a rowing boat. In a soho bar and over a Guinness and bag of pork scratchings Petra saw an old episode of “Voyage to the bottom of the sea” with a clog wearing giant octopus in it, that was that, she was now hooked into diving. Petra leaned to dive several years ago and driven by her passion to meet a giant clog wearing octopus soon progressed through the ranks with Stellar.
After a short period on the run from the Dutch Bulb police Petra returned and assuming her new identity engaged herself on the Divemaster programme. After successfully passing the course Petra now teaches & helps out at Stellar Divers. Petra is waiting to meet you to give you her expert dive/bulb growing advice.
Paul Furneaux, PADI Divemaster, DSD Leader
Seeking a new challenge coupled with my love of the natural world I passed my Open Water in March 2005 at Stoney Cove, in a snow shower, with more Tropical Waters firmly in mind. I soon realised that I enjoyed the whole diving experience more than could be satisfied by an annual two week a year family holiday in the sun and so Dry Suit, Deep Dive and Rescue Diver courses followed.
I have dived mainly around the UK and Red Sea.
On the morning that I turned up for the first day of my Open Water Course, feeling very exited and also a little apprehensive, I was introduced to my PADI Instructor and PADI Divemaster (who incidentally was Chris (Major) Brightman!). I was instantly hugely impressed by their enthusiasm, commitment and professionalism in the way that they delivered the training and coaching to me which was way beyond my expectations. One of the things that I find makes Diving so addictive is that it attracts people from all sorts of backgrounds and people with wide ranging experiences all pulling together as a team to enjoy a really exiting and positive sport.
I am a keen yachtsman and passionate about my love of the sea and the adventure that is waiting in it and on it, and now, having had a few years away from diving due to sailing projects I am now back. I have now completed my PADI Divemaster with Stellar Divers not only because I love diving, I also want to help new comers have the opportunity to enjoy similar fantastic life changing experiences that I am privileged to continue to have.
Miguel Vieira, PADI Divemaster, DSD Leader
I learnt to dive with Stellar in Oct 2012 after doing a Discover Scuba dive earlier that year and I soon caught the diving bug. I rapidly progressed to get my PADI Advanced Open Water (after repeatedly being told by Hotch that “I was a natural”) and now hold a PADI Rescue Diver certification along with 4 PADI Diver specialities including Wreck & Deep, it doesn’t stop there though I am still looking forward to doing more.
I love diving and the places it takes you to, I am a frequent visitor to my home in Portugal as well as Red Sea Liveaboard holidays and many trips around the UK.
I am a Vet and really love animals, in fact they are my life, I love everything fluffy, with scales or just covered in cute fur; I guess that’s where my fascination of all those gorgeous sea creatures comes from. As my job involves me dealing with sometimes difficult situations and having to help people I thought that I would be a natural PADI Divemaster so I signed up (July 2014) to be one of the next Stellar Divers PADI Divemasters, I realised my dream in October 2015 and am now a PADI Divemaster waiting to help you live the dream. I look forward to meeting you soon.
Duncan Howells – PADI Divemaster, DSD Leader, Club Moderator
I have always loved the sea, surfing as a child in Ghana, sailing around the UK and Baltic and travels around the Med coast. I started diving in 2003 and have loved every minute of it. I can still remember my try dive (DSD) – I thought I was James Bond! Haha!Many of my earlier dives were in the cold seas around the UK (South Coast, Cornwall, Anglesey, and Scapa Flow) and many inland sites. More recently I have enjoyed the warm waters of the Red Sea (liveaboards), Croatia, Italy (Elba – awesome site), Spain, Canaries, Portugal, Azores, Greece and Malta. Inspired by Hotch and Vic I have now become a PADI Divemaster. I am very much committed to the protection of the environment, and hope to do more in this area when time allows (love the reef cleaning)! I am really looking forward to some of the trips coming up (Truk Lagoon), and urge anyone to take up diving. It really does open a new world – great locations and great people! I enjoy teaching and seeing people grow and learn, and hope to use diving to achieve this too.
Helen Taylor, PADI Divemaster
I started diving 11 years ago in Egypt where I did my open water and advanced in 2 weeks. Since then I have dived all over the UK, Croatia, fuerteventura, Malta and gozo, Cuba, and Thailand.
I am happier under the water than above though so am just as happy in a swimming pool! Just over a year ago I decided I wanted to a bit more training so I did my rescue course and now I am looking forward to spending more time in the water and helping other people discover how damn nice diving is in my role as divemaster with stellar divers.
Ian Potter – PADI Divemaster
It has always been an ambition of mine to dive, especially with the memories as a child of watching the unconventional but innovative Jacques Cousteau in his TV series The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau and the Cousteau Odyssey in 70s and 80s.Not for the want of trying, I managed several times to start my diving career but failed to continue onto qualification.
Once in 1986 whilst serving in the Falkland Islands, thankfully in a heated pool and on a number of occasions in Cyprus in 90s. The most recent attempt was in Turkey whilst on holiday in 2013.I thought nothing of learning to dive since then, as work and family life managed to keep me busy. Until my eldest son asked me to arrange a course for him whilst he was home on leave in 2015. So, I thought I’d tag along and try once more. I thankfully managed to book an Open Water course for the both of us with Stellar. After an intense week of confined and open water training with the extremely enthusiastic Vic and Hotch, we successfully gained our Open Water certificate, with dry suit specilisation. From there on my appetite to learn has spiralled and I’ve accomplished many PADI specialities. I’m currently working towards becoming a Divemaster with an absolutely excellent team and enjoying every minute of it! My underwater explorations since becoming qualified include diving Rhodes and a Red Sea liveaboard. Where I’ve explored some impressive historical wrecks. But unforgettably, diving with dolphins, thresher and grey reef sharks has to top everything. Looking forward to future trips and experiences with Stellar and crew, old and new.
Siân Jones – PADI Divemaster
I found my love for diving August 2014 when on a holiday in the Caribbean, after the try dive I wanted to take the Open Water so that I could do more dives. Mum and Dad thought I wouldn’t carry on when back in England, but how wrong were they!
So from the Caribbean sea to Capernwray I knew that scuba diving was for me and so I joined Stellar Divers. Both Hotch and Vic have taken me through my specialities and rescue course but more recently I was lucky enough to go to the Azores to do my 50th dive with Hotch qualifying me for my MSD two days before my 16th birthday. I’m only one year into diving and hopefully got many more to come, I am now working towards my PADI Instructor qualification.
Emily Dennett, PADI Divemaster (in Training)
I first learnt to dive in 2004. I fell in love with diving straight away, it was the freedom and beauty of diving that captured me, since then I have never looked back or wanted to do anything else. I have mainly dived around the island of Corfu. I never thought UK diving would be for me as I’m a bit of a wimp when it comes to the cold, so in March I decided to throw myself in the deep end which just happened to be -4 and found that I actually loved diving in the UK. So here I am training to be a Dive master so that I can help other people realise how amazing the underwater world is (and that it’s not as cold as you would think)
Alice Ackroyd – PADI Divemaster (In Training)
I started diving in 2012 after my partner bought me, as a surprise, a bcd and a wetsuit for Christmas, I got the message! I was taught by Russ Antoniades a Stellar instructor, but in Grimsby and qualified in 2012. Prior to that I was known as Alice Ackroyd – Snorkeler when I joined Russ and Helen on their diving holidays! I’ve been very lucky to dive with Helen Taylor as my buddy, a far more experienced diver. We when we went to Thailand in 2014 when I got my Advanced Open Water. I’ve also dived in Gozo, Menorca, Fuerteventura and Capernwray! I started out as quite a nervous diver but diving with Stellar and being supported by Hotch and Vic has helped me become far more confident and I qualified as a Rescue Diver in 2016! I never thought I’d say I enjoyed diving so much and helping at the club is one of my weekend highlights, well that and playing hockey!
Mark Walton – PADI Divemaster (In Training)
I first discovered the underwater world in 2009 in the Maldives. Since then I have been hooked on warm water ‘pretty’ diving!!
This has taken me to the Palencar & Columbia reefs around Cozumel, The Cenotes in the Riviera Maya Mexico, Wreck diving and Musa around Cancun, The Ghost Fleet Wrecks of Chuuk Lagoon in Micronesia, The Atlantic ocean Azores Islands, Night Diving with Manta Rays on a Maldives liveaboard, Reef diving in Dominica, Scotland’s cold water corals, The Farne Islands with the ‘water Dogs’, Red Sea Deep South Liveaboard, Red Sea Wrecks & Reefs Liveaboard and a few sharm el sheikh trips. I have my sights set on the Philippines for 2018. I have notched up close to 200 dives so far. My most memorable dive to date has been to dive the Fujikawa Maru in Chuuk. I love the adventures that diving provides and look forward to completing my DM with the Stellar Team.