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 hobby. 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 – 2021. 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.
Ian Potter – PADI Master 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 Wright – PADI IDC Staff Instructor/Emergency First Responder Instructor
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 Houghton, PADI MSDT 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!!
Chrissy Howell – PADI IDC Staff 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.
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.
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.
Ben Chessum – PADI Instructor/Emergency First Response Instructor
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!!!
Nic Carapanagiotu – PADI Instructor/Emergency First Response Instructor
In 1998 I was told that only normal people can scuba dive. So, I learnt to scuba dive then, to spite them. That initial formal training was with BSAC. Which was where I learnt that normal people don’t scuba dive. I was told that diving will make you many friends – I have met so many amazing people, whom I cherish.
In the years since my formal training in 1998 I have frightened/bullied many instructors into passing me as ‘successful’ on various courses :-). I will be happy to pass those skills on to YOU.
Over the years, diving has taken me all over the world, from Southport (where I live now) to as far away as Stoney Cove, Leicestershire (a considerable achievement – 24,766 miles, if you go the long way around). I have seen may strange and exotic sites on dive trips, some of which have been underwater. This has allowed me to see many different diving techniques, which I will be happy to pass on to you. These include (in no special order) try-diving without a weightbelt, open-zip ‘dry’ suit diving, breath hold diving on any empty cylinder, drifting away from the shot line diving, diving with a severe hangover, etc. If you don’t know what these mean, don’t worry, I will explain them to you, and allow you to practice them. Most of my extraordinary experiences have been with my dive buddy Ron, a man, a myth, someone who is often seen wandering around wearing long socks!
My main interest in diving is marine infestations and their effects on wreck diving: colourful fish and flora are a growing problem around our shores – you and I will do our best to scrape as much as we can from the many scenic wrecks around our shores, as well as those in foreign parts. Truk Lagoon, and to a lesser extent, the Maldives especially suffer from such invasions.
I can relate to your diving journey better than any of the other instructors you might meet, as I am near to completing my second level PADI rebreather course. As a result of that course, I am current in how to do almost any diving skill the wrong way. Which makes me a superb instructor.
By the way, the other instructors you will meet are all rubbish, so come and learn from me (Hotch has said he loves my approach and often pats me on the head!!)
Ben (Skippy) Skipper, PADI Instructor/Emergency First Response Instructor
SCUBA diving is something I had always wanted to try, and ever since doing my Open Water course in 2015 it has had me hooked – the more I do it, the more I love it. The feeling of weightlessness underwater and being able to move in three dimensions is something that never gets old, and is difficult to fully explain to people until they experience it for themselves! This was one of the best things for me about becoming a Divemaster – helping students experience and enjoy diving for the first time.
Since qualifying I have tried to continue learning by taking my Advanced Open Water and various speciality courses, before becoming a Rescue Diver in 2020, Master Scuba Diver in 2021 and Divemaster in 2022. Over the years I have been lucky enough to experience a wide variety of diving adventures, such as drift diving in the Indian Ocean, exploring shipwrecks in the Red Sea and the Mediterranean, diving beautiful coral reefs in the Caribbean and the Persian Gulf, and even diving a shark-filled aquarium in the UAE. Yet still, it’s hard to beat a good weekend of diving with Stellar in an old limestone quarry up in Lancashire!
But whatever your diving goals are, there is a PADI course to help get you there, and with Stellar Divers you can be sure that you will have just as much fun on the surface as you will underwater.
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.
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.
Garry Wood, PADI Divemaster/DSD Leader/Emergency First Response Instructor
I had tried holiday “try dives” and just couldn’t understand how people enjoyed participating in Scuba Diving as it felt, well, ODD. Then in late 2017 I was on an island in the Maldives and there was a house reef that I snorkelled daily. Sitting against the house reef was a small wreck and I decided there and then that I had a dream. That dream was to come back the following year and somehow dive down to it. I came home and in December 2017 I contacted a local dive club that I found on the internet and called them. The guy who answered the call was Hotch and he talked me through the processes I would need to go through to be able to achieve my “dream”.
In February of 2018 I did a DSD with my 12-year-old grandson Jack and by June of that year we were both qualified as Open Water Divers. By September I was an Advanced Open Water diver and satisfied with myself. In December 2018 I dived down to that wreck on the house reef on the island of Kuredu and achieved my “dream” and was totally satisfied in my achievement and didn’t want to go any further.
Well I had the bug and when I was asked over a beer with Hotch and the team after the Stellar Divers Capernwray trip in October 2019 if I wanted to become a Divemaster I couldn’t say no and started what I had intended to be a 2 year journey. 11 months later I qualified as a PADI Divemaster and the Pro journey began. I am very lucky in that my wife Julia now has the bug too so we enjoy being underwater and are looking forward to many adventures with the Stellar Dive club both in the UK and overseas.
I now look forward to helping others like I did in and achieve their “dream”.
Vicky Burton, PADI Divemaster
I have loved being in the water since a young age. I spent most of my childhood holidays splashing around the waters of a small Cornish fishing village called Polruan. I’ve always been an avid fan of travelling the world and, in 2018, before a trip to Thailand I decided that I wanted to become a scuba diver and explore the underwater world. I signed up to do my Open Water Qualification with Stellar and on a cold October weekend up at Capernwray I passed my certification. After diving in the Maldives early 2019, I knew I had caught the diving “bug”. I got certified in my Dry suit course the following weekend which enabled me to continue diving in the UK throughout the year. In October 2021 I passed my Divemaster course (something which I never would have thought possible a few years ago. Big thanks to Vic & Hotch for having faith in me!)
I have been on many amazing dive trips around the UK. Scotland has been my favourite so far. I’ve also been lucky enough to dive in the warm waters of various locations around the world, always taking my camera with me to snap those turtle, shark or manta ray encounters!
Claire Smales – PADI Divemaster/DSD Leader/Emergency First Response Instructor
I have always loved the sea and as a child, was fortunate to live abroad. My brothers and I spent many hours playing in the sea swimming, snorkelling and sailing. Skipping ahead a few years, Steve and I booked a holiday to the Maldives to celebrate our 60th birthdays. But before we left, we signed up for Discover Scuba Diving with Stellar Divers and that as they say, was that. I was hooked. I started my Open Water with Stellar and completed it in the beautiful warm waters of the Indian Ocean. It was amazing to discover a completely new and beautiful world.
Since qualifying I continued my learning and in July 2018 I completed my Advanced Open Water at Capernwray along with my Dry Suit course. Definitely not diving in the UK in a wetsuit! The following year, I had great fun on my Rescue Diver course completing it in the November at Girton.
And then, one evening in The Kings Arms I was enjoying a few drinks and a meal when I was ‘Hotched’ Before I knew it I’d been signed up for a DiveMaster Course. It was the making of me as a diver, building confidence, fine tuning my skills and loving diving even more. Thank you to the most amazing dive team for helping me through.
I love supporting the instructors and students. As a DSD Leader it is an honour to be involved in the students initial experience as they join the most amazing journey of their lives under the sea.
Mat Haisman – PADI Divemaster
After doing 5 or 6 try dives in the past and chance meeting with 5 or 6 beers at a wedding with the beautiful Hotch my diving journey appeared to be set in stone – just before we parted ways that fateful night, the Jedi mind trick words “You will be an instructor one day” came from wise old Hotch, I think he might be right!
Learning with the team at Stellar was an absolute pleasure, so much so that after my open water course I was eager to learn more, and I have recently qualified as a PADI Divemaster. I really enjoy passing on knowledge and skills to new divers, watching them progress and ultimately enjoying their scuba journey too. The excellent coaching and mentoring our students receive from our instructors I believe sets any Stellar certified diver up for diving anywhere in the world.
You’ll be able to find me at the pool and at our open water sites running around making sure everyone has what they need, moving cylinders around and answering to the call of “Nanny”…..