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 Course Director, PADI Re Breather Instructor, Emergency First Responder Instructor Trainer
I remember the exact moment I fell in love with the water. I was 4 years old. My parents had taken myself and my brother on holiday in Spain & I distinctly remember a seal shaped buoyancy ring in which I was plopped!! That was it!! Water was in my heart, and that’s where it’s stayed ever since. 15 years later, I did a try-dive in Ibiza, which affected me so profoundly I decided to focus my attention on making scuba diving my career. I did my PADI Open Water in the UK at the beautiful Stoney Cove & that was that, I was hooked. Ultimately & with the bit firmly between my teeth I climbed the professional PADI ladder to Divemaster in 2007 and became a PADI OWSI & EFR instructor in 2010. Along the way I achieved my PADI Closed Circuit Re Breather Instructor in 2014 and I am truly proud of having received the prestigious PADI Elite Instructor award continually 2013 – 2020. There is so much I want to give back to diving, and so much more I want to see. I am now in the privileged position of being a PADI Course Director so I can focus on developing new instructors & my phenomenal team who are the ones that introduce the next generation of divers to the beautiful under sea world. I am lucky, but so can you be, live your life, dive the dream
Victoria Hotchkin – Director, PADI Master Instructor, PADI Freediver Instructor, Emergency First Responder Instructor
I have been diving since 2007 & I love it as much today as the first day I started. UK diving is “Serious fun” it inspired me to take the next step of becoming an Instructor in 2012. Since then I have had the privilege of teaching many people to dive and one of the best things ever, is seeing a new student get their first taste of what the underwater world has to offer and watching their confidence grow. I believe you are never too old to learn new skills so decided to train and qualify as a Freediving Instructor in 2019; Another discipline that can open up access to the incredible underwater world. I was originally a lawyer by profession, and run two companies of my own as well as trying to keep Hotch and the Team in order! Since starting Stellar Divers we have had the privilege of meeting so many new people but all with a common interest, diving. I am passionate about making diving accessible to all and that everyone, of all ages and abilities, who come to Stellar feels welcome and achieves their true underwater potential.
Siân Jones – PADI IDC Staff Instructor/Emergency First Responder Instructor
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 became a PADI Divemaster at 18, a PADI Instructor at 19 & I can’t wait to leap at the next challenge!!
Ian Potter – PADI IDC Staff Instructor/Emergency First Responder Instructor
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 PADI MSDT Instructor 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.
Chris (Gunsmoke) Wright – PADI Staff Instructor/Emergency First Responder Instructor
My family tree is definitely not nautical, I have a distant connection to Kit & Jake Wright, two of the main conspirators of the Gunpowder plot! Being Stellar’s pyrotechnics specialist allows me to celebrate this villainous history with a huge party every 5th November! The neighbours love it and the bomb squad have only ever been called out once (am I joking?!?!) Ok, the diving should always come back to one feeling – enjoyment! Enjoyment from the first experience of being able to breathe underwater to helping people become competent qualified divers. In addition, being a diver develops knowledge of physiology and physics, challenges for all, and opportunities to experience natural and human underwater marvels. I started diving with the British Sub-Aqua Club in 1996 followed by a long hiatus focused on family and career (with a small quantity of ‘take the opportunity’ dives). In 2016, I reminded myself that I enjoyed diving and gained PADI qualifications with Stellar Divers. I look forward to diving with you.
Gary Molson PADI IDC Staff Instructor/Emergency First Response Instructor
My first experience of Scuba diving was in 2006 in the warm waters of the Atlantic whilst on holiday in Lanzarote. I sought out a local dive centre and took part in a Discover Scuba Diving experience. Over the following few years, I did the same thing – each time saying to myself “I’m going to learn to do this properly” – but never got round to it. In February 2011 and after having researched the Padi system I set myself a goal of becoming a Padi Divemaster. I got in touch with a local dive centre and started my journey by signing up for my Padi Open Water Course. The courses and my experiences continued and in July 2012 I successfully achieved my goal qualifying as a Padi Divemaster. But it didn’t stop there! My passion for diving had developed I wanted to be able to pass on my knowledge to others so that they too could experience the underwater world that, at times, people only dream about. I signed up for my Padi Instructor Development Course and in October 2012 I qualified as a Padi Open Water Scuba Instructor. I have since gained numerous Padi Speciality Instructor Courses and qualified as a Padi Advanced Rebreather Diver. In September 2016 I successfully qualified as a Padi IDC Staff Instructor. Did you know that the world’s oceans cover over 70% of the Earth’s surface? So, you see there is more than enough space underwater for all of us. Don’t wait – learn to dive today – I guarantee you will not regret it!
Chris Brightman, PADI Instructor, Emergency First Responder Instructor
Chris (Major) took up scuba diving over fifteen 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 800 logged dives under his weight belt. He has dived abroad in the Philippines, Malta, the Maldives, the Red Sea, Kenya, the Caribbean, Spain 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 that Chris became an PADI Assistant Instructor on his 71st Birthday, & a PADI Instructor at 72! becoming the oldest qualifying UK PADI Instructor. If ever there was proof that age is no barrier when it comes to scuba diving Chris is it.
Chris Houghton, PADI Instructor/ Emergency First Responder Instructor
Chris also Known as “Seasick” for reasons best left unexplained, has been diving since 2005 and has over 500 dives logged. Chris especially loves shipwrecks of any size and condition, having dived on some of the world’s top wrecks as well as great sites in UK waters. Chris qualified as a PADI Divemaster in 2012, as a PADI Assistant Instructor in 2014, and (about time too) a PADI OWSI in 2018. 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 & we can absolutely guarantee nobody makes a pie like Seasick!!
Petra Pollux – PADI Instructor, Emergency First Responder Instructor
Hello fellow water lovers. My name is Petra Pollux, and I am from Holland (although I have been in the UK for a long time). I have always been drawn to water, from playing in waves and rock pools as a child, to becoming a competitive sailor as a teenager, then later becoming a sailing instructor. But nothing has ever resonated with me as much as the first time I tried scuba diving. Suddenly I was immersed in a whole new world, filled with weird and wonderful creatures who were as curious about me as I about them, and from that moment I was hooked. I completed my open water in 2004 in Egypt, followed by my advanced a year later at the same school, then I enjoyed recreational diving until I stumbled across Stellar Divers and decided to continue improving my skills. I have dived all over the world, a highlight being diving with rays in the Maldives, but I find teaching equally rewarding. It is a privilege to introduce people to a world I love, and I look forward to shepherding you on your scuba diving journey.
Karl Potter (AKA John Wick) – PADI Instructor, Emergency First Responder Instructor
I started diving after receiving a Discover Scuba Diving (DSD) as a Christmas present in 2015 with Stellar Divers. I’ve progressed since then to qualify as an open water, advanced open water and onto Rescue Diver. As well as these core diver qualifications, I’ve also successfully completed 5 PADI specialties. As a consequence of all this training and managing to clock over 200 dives I have been awarded the certification of Master Scuba Diver. I completed my PADI Divemaster course with Stellar in 2018, and became a PADI Instructor in 2019. My underwater history includes diving in many of the UK’s inland dive sites, but the best has to be diving off the coasts of Turkey, Rhodes and recently around the Farne Islands with grey seals. In the future I wish to travel further and deeper to see more marine life and wrecks. Many Thanks to Vic & Hotch at Stellar Divers.
Margaret Morris, PADI Instructor, EFR Emergency First Responder Instructor
I learned to swim at the age of five in the coldest pool in Britain – The Step Rock Pool in St Andrews washed twice a day by the lovely Scottish tide. I emerged blue and in love with the sea and that has never left me. When I eventually had the opportunity to do a discover scuba dive I was hooked. I went on to do my open water and continued my PADI education up to instructor level. Since then I have dived all over the world and done almost 1200 dives. Three years ago I did a short Marine Biology course at Newcastle University which was amazing but sadly did highlight the stress we are putting our oceans under. My great passion now is underwater photography Woo hoo never happier than when I am underwater with my camera and teaching others what they need to know to love our seas.
Chrissy Howell – PADI Instructor, Emergency First Responder Instructor
After a bad tourist experience of diving in my teenage years, I vowed never to dive again. However, I was convinced to give it another try, and after a successful DSD session with Stellar Divers I was hooked. 3 years later, with a lot of support and encouragement from Vic and Hotch, I’ve progressed to PADI Instructor, now what comes next 🙂 I’m a big fan of warm water diving – which fits in well with my love for travel and adventure!! Cooler UK Waters though are very interesting! I especially enjoy looking out for the aquatic critters too. I’m now on a mission, working towards my PADI IDC Staff Instructor.
Amy Freeman – SSI Dive Leader – Operations Manager
I may be small but have big love for all things diving! I started my SCUBA journey on holiday in Egypt in 2011 and have enjoyed every minute of it since then. I started my professional career while working on dive boats in the Great Barrier Reef and then the dolphin filled waters of New Zealand and returned to the UK last year. I have been welcomed into the Stellar family by Vic and Hotch and the team. I am grateful to be surrounded by such a good bunch of divers and people to help me become the best instructor I can be. The underwater world is both exciting and so peaceful at the same time and there’s nothing better than being able to share this magic with others! You’ll usually find me in the Hub so pop in when it’s allowed and say hi!
Duncan Howells – PADI Divemaster – Mission SALVATION Ambassador
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. Many of my earlier dives were in the cold seas around the UK (South Coast, Cornwall, Anglesey, and Scapa Flow) and many inland sites. I have since enjoyed the warmer waters of the Red Sea (liveaboards), Croatia, Italy (Elba – awesome site), Spain, Canaries, Portugal, Azores, Madeira, Greece, Malta, and Truk Lagoon (Pacific). I 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. Inspired by Hotch and Vic I qualified as a PADI Divemaster, with them. I am very much committed to the protection of the oceans and environment and now that I have more time, can contribute towards doing something towards it. In my new role I am delighted to oversee the Stellar Divers environmental initiative Mission SALVATION, please support us on our mission.
Alice Ackroyd – PADI Divemaster
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 then 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 & PADI Divemaster in 2018! 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!
Helen Taylor – PADI Divemaster/DSD Leader
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.
Dan Hughes – PADI Divemaster/DSD Leader
My scuba journey began like most good plans / ideas, over a few sociable beers late one night in a drinking hole I used to frequent. Upon where a slightly enlightened series of late night conversations lead to me being talked into attending a try dive on an un earthly hour on a Sunday morning. The rest is history. I have always since a small child had a fascination of the underwater world and all its weird and wonderful creatures and breath-taking views and have always wanted to explore this exciting world. After my first try dive with Stellar I was hooked. I decided to complete my open water certificate and the ball rolled or should I say floated very quickly from there to me becoming a PADI Divemaster and DSD Leader which is one of the most proudest moments of my diving career so far. One of the best/ most rewarding things for me being a divemaster is that I get the opportunity to be able to mentor and assist up and coming divers who are just starting out on their journey as well as work with a great team of people oh and most importantly have fun whilst doing this. I have had the opportunity to dive in many places around the world such as: Egypt, California, Florida, Malta (Gozo), Lanzarote, Mallorca as well as some of the impressive sites around the UK. I also have the privilege to be part of an aquarium dive team in which I get to regularly hand feed sharks and rays and guide people on shark encounter experiences.
Sam Hanby, PADI Divemaster
I started diving back in 2009 at the age of 12. I started with a club in Nottingham and gradually worked my way up to rescue diver by the age of 15. All of my diving was UK based up until 2014 when I got my first taste of warm water diving in Indonesia. Whilst in Indonesia I worked on a conservation project with Operation Wallacea surveying sections of reef and trying to replenish areas of dead reef with corals grown in a lab on bathroom tiles.
I took a break from diving in 2015 until 2017 (I have no idea why and it was a very silly decision!!!) This is when Stellar came to the rescue and rekindled my love for all things aquatic. Since I have been diving with Stellar they have taken my diving to a whole new level and I have since qualified as a Divemaster. I have shared quite a few adventures with Stellar and hopefully there are many more to come!!!
Martin Ball, PADI Divemaster
After a few years of doing holiday try dives I decided to look into a PADI open water course. In 2016 I contacted Stellar Divers and started my journey. Once I’d completed all the confined water skills I then went onto complete my open water and Dry suit course at Capernwray. From then I realised how much I enjoyed being in the water so knew I had to continue my training which I have now done all the way up to Rescue diver, Master Scuba diver and now qualified as a Divemaster. I enjoy helping new dive students in the water and in the Classroom. The speciality dive courses are great and my favourites were the Search & Recovery and DPV (Diver propulsion vehicle). I would recommend Stellar divers to anyone, their tuition is so professional and you’re always made to feel welcome whether in the water or in the pub on a diving trip. I’ve done lots of UK diving and I’d say the best being diving with the Seals at the Farne Islands. Looking forward to many more dive trips in future.
Ben Chessum, PADI Divemaster
Well this is a curious tale, my name is Ben Chessum but I started life as Lord Arthur Wiginbottom the great great great grandson of Lord Wilfonce Wiginnbottom III the inventor of the Wigin Surge Pump that allowed the cotton revolution to prosper in Manchester, a heritage I am particularly proud of. I changed my name to avoid publicity when we discovered that Wilfonce’s great great grandfather was a friendly pirate who was discovered the potato many years before Sir Frances Drake! Something our family still claims is the truth! Anyway diving!! I love scuba diving, it is something that has been in my blood ever since I fought off a great white shark when I was 5 years old! It was after my hamburger and I wasn’t having any of it! Hence forth I have an affinity with the sea! I aim to be a PADI instructor and help develop the next generation of scuba divers. I hope to see you in a pool soon, just remember if I’m eating do not approach!!!