NEWQUAY ACTIVITY CENTRE LIMITED - Key Persons
- Professional Surfer & Head Coach
For those with even the slightest bit of interest in British surfing, Alan Stokes will need no introduction. Having won countless surfing competitions, and being widely regarded as one of the UK's best surfers, 3 x British Champion Alan (or ‘Stokesy' as he prefers to be called) is a major contributor to the Newquay Activity Centre surf coaching team.
Alan was born in Kent and lived there until the age of 6 when his parents decided to move the family south west to Cornwall. Before leaving the family home, Alan came across an old beat-up polystyrene surfboard in the shed. This went in the back of the moving truck along with everything else for the family's new life on the Cornish coast. This one decision quite possibly changed the face of British surfing for the next decade.
Messing around in the waves soon took the shape of block-booked surf lessons. These lessons then progressed to winning local ocean club events. His natural skill coupled with an ability to quickly master moves ultimately got Stokesy his first big break. This came in the form of travelling to Portugal as a 15-year old to join the European Junior Surf Championships. A year later, Stokesy was taking part in the British Surfing Association's Schools Competition where he took first prize against many of the older and more experienced surfers.
Since the early days of upsetting the bigger boys during school surf competitions, Stokesy has gone on to live out a full and successful surfing career. He's been lucky enough to travel the world as a pro and score some sick waves in countries such as Hawaii, Norway, Indonesia, Canada, the Americas and, of course, many of his home breaks around Cornwall. Thanks to his international surfing prowess, he's also been sponsored by many of the world's big surfing brands including Animal, The Dry Bag and Fourth Surfboards.
- Course Director & Surf Coach
- ISA / BSA Surf Coach
Baz has been an ISA/BSA Surf Coach course presenter since 1996 and still has the passion to deliver extraordinary results on a daily basis. When he's not teaching people to surf, he's teaching people how to teach people to surf! Surfception! As an ISA Course Presenter Mentor, Baz is responsible for the new wave of course presenters coming through the ranks and into surf schools across the country.
- Head of Video Media & International Bodyboard Guide
In recent years I have become obsessed with wave exploration in Ireland. I love the Irish coastline and it excites me more than anywhere else on Earth! If you've noticed any of the epic photos or videos throughout the Newquay Activity Centre website (and it's hard not to!) then you're already unknowingly aware of our Head of Video Media and International Bodyboard Guide Chris Burton. Chris is the creative professional behind our incredible images and he's the reason our activities come to life so vividly on screen. Originally from the east coast of the UK, Chris moved to Cornwall in the early 2000's and, after finishing his A-levels, took the unique opportunity to tour the country with his successful band. The rock and roll chapter of Chris' life allowed him to play at all of the UK's major music venues and festivals, experiencing a lifestyle many of us could only dream of! Once Chris had tasted the nomadic way of life, he developed a passion for travel and wanted to continue exploring more of the world. To fund this, he trained as a chef and has since worked in many kitchens the world over. Throughout his travels, Chris has loved chasing the waves and he would spend as much time surfing and bodyboarding as often as his schedule would let him. From here, Chris spent the next 10 years hot-footing it around the globe working back-to-back ski seasons and crushing epic bodyboarding breaks in his time off. This flexible freelance lifestyle truly highlights the benefit of working as an outdoor instructor. Six months in the snow and six months in the sun; what's not to love! In 2018, after years of travelling and experiencing different cultures and countries, Chris settled back in Cornwall. As if being a musician, bodyboard coach and chef weren't enough to keep him busy, Chris followed his true passion and graduated from a series of home-based courses to set up a business as a freelance photographer and videographer. Now based back in Cornwall, Chris also works as an instructor for Newquay Activity Centre sharing his passion for the outdoors and helping new people experience the benefits of the wild. Chris is experienced and proficient in leading surfing, bodyboarding, kayaking and coasteering sessions. He is mostly found in our centre during the summer months but don't be surprised if you see him in the middle of winter trying to catch that perfect surfing photo! Thanks to his immense talent and skill, Chris has helped to bring the Newquay Activity Centre website to life with stunning photos and enticing videos. If you see Chris around the centre at all, be sure to ask him for his top tips on photography! Or cooking… Or playing instruments… Or snowboarding… Or bodyboarding! Best memory about the outdoors: My best memories of the great outdoors are in the mountains. Specifically on my snowboard. To date, I am the first and last person to ever jump over the infamous southern hemisphere ‘Road Gap' at night! Notifications
Bolstering our office team and keeping a close eye on business is avid surfer and Head of Sales - Dan Metcalfe. Dan joined the NAC team in early 2021 after a successful career working with many of Europe's best surf retailers. After working and surfing at some of the best beaches around the world, it's great to have Dan's experience and expertise here in Newquay.
Picking up his first surfboard at the young age of 6, Dan was immediately spellbound by the ocean. He knew straight away that this was going to be much more than just a hobby and so, many waves later, Dan started his career within the surf industry. First up, at the age of 18, came a stint as a sales assistant in Somerset's Wave Game surf shop. This allowed Dan to spend every day with colleagues and customers who shared his passion for the surf.
Dan's commitment and professionalism within retail was soon rewarded when, now working for Fanatix Surf Shop, he was offered the role of Area Manager. This entailed overseeing the running of four branches through Somerset and Devon, making sure the staff, customers and owners were all equally happy.
His hard work across the two counties upgraded his status to international recognition when, a few years later, he was offered a role as a surf rep for the French surf brand Shorebreak. This continental work lifestyle allowed Dan to cast a wide net across many of Europe's best surf spots. The intertwined combination of working and surfing only served to reinforce Dan's passion and strengthen his experience in the surfing industry.
Dan returned to the UK following his chapter on the continent to continue his managerial career whilst simultaneously studying for a degree in Business. Post university, Dan became a manager of the Cornwall Surf Academy and helped to run surfing, coasteering, SUPing and other ocean-based activities over a span of six years.
Throughout his adventures, Dan has visited many different countries and met many different people. His favourite spots include France, Portugal, Indonesia, America and Australia amongst many more.
- Social Media Manager
One of our longest-serving and most multi-talented instructors down in Newquay is Grant Woodhouse. Grant has been with Newquay Activity Centre since 2014 and has since climbed the ladder to incorporate management expertise into his varied skill set. Grant runs the Newquay Activity Centre social media whilst also working on operations and in the office. When you think of the nomadic surf lifestyle, nobody fits the bill better than Mr. Woodhouse. Grant works remotely in Bali for two thirds of the year, spending the final third working back here in Newquay. If ever there was an advert for the benefits of becoming an outdoor instructor - Grant's your man! Grant received his lifeguard qualifications back in 2010 during college. After two years at university, he realised that his passions lay elsewhere and subsequently decided to take a different path in life. Grant wanted a life in the great outdoors and turned his passion for surfing into a full-time coaching role. After training with NAC throughout the years, Grant is now fully versed and experienced in delivering every activity we have to offer. His passion for the ocean lifestyle far outweighs any other desire that many of us fall victim to in this modern world. Grant grew up on the beach and was constantly bodyboarding, swimming or searching in rock pools on family holidays. Since these early days, every job or pastime has involved being in, near or on the ocean in some capacity. In the UK off season, Grant also works for our sister company Bodyboard Holidays organising and delivering customer holidays in Indonesia and Morocco. In his (limited!) spare time, Grant enjoys surfing, bodyboarding, freediving, fishing and searching for exotic creatures in tidal pools. Best memory about the outdoors: Driving for hours on a motorbike in Indonesia in search of the perfect bodyboarding waves. Then finally coming across them right on the edge of the jungle with absolutely no one else around. Epic! Notifications
Keeping the Newquay Activity Centre cogs running like clockwork is office manager and mother of two Hannah Firth. Moving to Cornwall at the age of 4, Hannah practically grew up on the beach so it's no surprise she's such a natural here at NAC. Although she now calls Newquay home, Hannah's sense of adventure has taken her across the globe visiting countries that include Australia, New Zealand, California, Thailand and the Maldives.
Hannah's ability to thrive under pressure stems from her impressive military career in the Royal Corps of Signals. During her first year of basic training, Hannah beat 900 other candidates to be presented with the Best Private Award and, on top of this, she was the first female to be awarded such a medal. It was during this exciting time in the military that Hannah fell in love with the outdoors and the many adventure sports that come with it.
Completing the coaching line up for your Outdoor Instructor Course at Newquay Activity Centre is ocean enthusiast and surf extraordinaire Jack Day. With Jack's busy life revolving 100% around the tides, he's one trident away from being Aquaman himself. Jack has been with us here at NAC since 2017, gaining all of his qualifications and experience down on the beautiful Cornish coast. Jack grew up in Somerset but spent his family holidays on the beaches of Cornwall each summer. It was on these shores that his passion for surfing came into existence and it has had a lasting impact on his life ever since. Jack is qualified in teaching many different ocean sports including surfing, bodyboarding, stand up paddle boarding and super SUPing. When he's not coaching, he's busy making the very boards that get shredded in the swell with his own hands. Jack's shaping business, Salty Shapes, is an independent board shop that creates custom surfboards for a wide range of clients. Salty Shapes focus mostly on retro and classic boards with an emphasis on easier skill progression. Jack has previously worked as a surf instructor on the west coast of the States, out in California. Here he worked at one of the best point breaks in the world, Trestles, sharing his passion and knowledge for the sport. Jack's desire to find the perfect wave has seen him travel all around the world to places like New Zealand, Australia, Bali, Sri Lanka and Mexico. Best memory about the outdoors: Going on a surf trip after my first season working for NAC with a group of fellow instructors. We travelled over to Bali where we spent 2 months surfing amazing reefs and point breaks! Notifications
Leading the way with words is outdoor instructor and travel & adventure writer James Fisher. James is originally from Northamptonshire but, through his extended family on the south coast, he spent many of his former years on and around the beaches of Bournemouth. School holiday childcare came in the form of extended stays with grandparents, picnics on the beach and learning the hard way about rips & prevailing winds.
This early introduction to the ocean sparked a lifetime passion and a fascination with all things water-based. Unfortunately, being based in Northamptonshire, this lifestyle didn't lend itself too well to the regular enjoyment of the coast. In 2011, James upped sticks and moved down to the familiar coast he'd grown up with. This new coastal lifestyle cemented a special place in his heart and strengthened his ties with the ocean.
Wanting to experience new cultures, different countries and new people, the summer of 2018 saw James filling his oversized backpack with many things he didn't need to travel the exciting world of south-east Asia. James spent four months backpacking the colourful and fascinating countries of Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, Malaysia, Singapore, Java and Bali. Hitting the island of Koh Tao during monsoon season also saw James train and qualify as a certified PADI open water diver.
From here it was a one-way ticket to Australia to kick off a brand new chapter of travel. James spent a year working and living in Sydney with his partner and brother, experiencing the awesome, social, outdoor lifestyle that Australia affords. From his base in Sydney, James travelled New Zealand for a month, visited Melbourne for a break, and spent 6 weeks travelling the east coast of Australia before flying home.
On his return to the UK in early 2020, armed with a brand new perspective on the world, James knew there was so much more to life than turning up to a job that didn't truly make him happy. Adamant to not slip back into his 10-hour construction work days, James undertook a host of online courses and now spends his days writing about what he loves; travel and adventure.
Alongside his freelance writing work, 2021 saw James act upon his passion for the ocean and qualify as a paddlesport instructor. Now, when he isn't typing away on his laptop in the back of his campervan, he's spending his days barefoot in board shorts guiding SUP tours on the River Avon.
- Course Tutor & Coach
- Director of 4 Elements Adventure
Teaching you for the majority of your course will be ocean safety and adventure expert Mark Kelly from 4 Elements Adventure. Mark is essentially a real life Action Man - if Action Man had an Irish accent and a profound connection to the great outdoors. Mark works hard all around the world to deliver safety training and advice to people who wish to spend more time outside in both professional and personal capacities. As the director of 4 Elements Adventure, Mark spends the majority of his time training new outdoor instructors, running beach lifeguard courses, providing event safety and equipping people with the skills they need to work or explore safely outside. Mark's passion for adventure revealed itself fairly early on as he became a volunteer instructor at the young age of 16. Since then, Mark has gained invaluable experience all over the world working with many people from highly varying backgrounds. Following on from Mark's early years as a voluntary instructor, he went on to continue this interest at a vocational level. He studied for a Higher National Diploma in Outdoor Education and, subsequently, gained a BSC (Joint Hons) in Outdoor Education and Environmental Science at university. Mark's list of outdoor qualifications has since grown longer and longer as he continually strives to be the best at what he does. Mark's infectious enthusiasm for the great outdoors really makes a difference to the way you learn. His wealth of experience will help you understand what it takes to be an effective professional outdoor instructor, instilling in you a sense of pride and passion for the world we live in. Mark is an active practitioner in both land and water sports where he delivers training, coaching, guiding and instructing in a variety of disciplines. Perhaps the most commendable aspect of Mark's teachings is his passion for the environment and the upkeep of the natural world. Mark and 4 Elements Adventure have an eco focus in all that they do, not only physically helping to clean the environment, but also teaching others about current issues and what they can do to help. Mark's ‘leave no trace' principles add a respectable angle to working outside, which will, in turn, help you to become the best outdoor instructor you can be. Alongside coaching, Mark's extensive knowledge and experience has seen him become a trainer & assessor for the RLSS (Royal Life Saving Society), SLSGB (Surf Life Saving Great Britain) and the ISKGA (International Sea Kayak Guide Association), as well as being the latter's Ocean Safety Representative. Notifications
The unseen (but definitely not unappreciated!) man behind our amazing website is bodyboarding fanatic and IT extraordinaire Matt Hawken. Born and bred in Cornwall, Matt knows just what it takes for our website to represent the best that our county has to offer. Matt joined the NAC team in early 2010 and has since upgraded our domain through the design and build process of various websites, the development of booking & enquiry systems and the overall management of numerous advertising campaigns.
Matt's strong expertise in web development and his rich history of being a general IT guru has helped our online presence grow from strength to strength throughout the years. For the bodyboarding aficionados out there, you may have already inadvertently stumbled across Matt's work online. A few years ago, Matt developed, owned and managed the biggest bodyboarding forum in the UK - Kernow Bodyboarding.
When he isn't deep in code on the back-end of websites, Matt can be found scoring waves and guiding students on our well-loved international bodyboarding trips. Matt's penchant for expert analysis also extends, luckily for us, to surf forecasts. Whenever we need an in-depth breakdown of the upcoming surf conditions in the area, Matt is our go-to guy. Matt is also a well-respected bodyboarder in his own right and he knows the details of the Cornish coast better than anyone. Away from the screens and the surf, Matt enjoys the underwater world of spear fishing and the freedom of road biking.
- Operations Assistant
If you've ever booked a surfing holiday or a coaching weekend through us, you've more than likely spoken to our helpful and friendly Operations Assistant - Monica Lewis. Cornwall born and raised, Monica grew up in the water and we're fairly sure she has salt-water running through her veins. (Though the science behind this remains a mystery.)
Monica's Cornish upbringing coupled with her passion for the ocean inevitably led to her picking up a surfboard around the age of 13. Along with her two sisters, the trio of Lewis's had the Cornish coastline as their playground and they've since indulged their love of the water in many countries around the world.
After gaining a degree in Business and Management at Sussex University, Monica returned to the coast to complete her surf instructor qualification. For the next two years Monica worked on the beautiful Harlyn beach, spreading her passion and helping others to enjoy the surf as much as possible. Instructor life on Harlyn beach bookended four months of travel in South East Asia where Monica really got the bug for international surfing.
On top of surf coaching, Monica has also assisted in many other ocean activities including kayaking, coasteering and SUPing. This has been for us here at Newquay Activity Centre as well as our sister company, Women + Waves. Coaching ocean activities has taken Monica to many parts of the world including Perranporth, South Africa and Mozambique.
Monica's personal passion for travel + surfing has almost shaded in the entire world map. She has managed to tick off many countries including Portugal, New Zealand, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Philippines, California, Singapore and Iceland. When she's not on a plane, Monica also holds the role of Events Coordinator at Women + Waves and Operations Assistant at Bodyboard Holidays.
- Director of W W & Surf Coach
Rachel was born and raised in Cornwall and has loved the water for as long as she can remember. The beach was her playground. Rachel started bodyboarding as a kid and joined a local surf life-saving club soon after. She just loved being in the water; no matter how cold it was or what the waves were doing. As long as she got the chance to get in the water, she was happy and, ultimately, became totally addicted!
Rachel started out dunking wetsuits at a surf school from the age of 16. She then continued to work within the surf industry; from being an activity instructor, working in centre management, working in surf shops, and then in surf travel which allowed her to surf all over the world. In 2017 she combined her passion and knowledge and launched Women + Waves.
Rachel started Women + Waves to unite all water-loving women together in a surf club environment. It didn't matter if they were pro surfers, or if they just wanted to dip their toes in. It was just about getting in the water, washing the day away and having fun in a comfortable, no-pressure environment. A lot of Rachel's friends and other local ladies wanted to join in too. They wanted all-female surf lessons, surf weekends + holidays, hints and tips, an extra confidence boost and a chance to meet like-minded women.
That's when the Women + Waves ‘surf society' really blossomed. Rachel and her team have now created a welcoming women's surf community where everyone is fully supportive of each other.
The vibe's contagious and Rachel loves seeing how stoked everyone looks after a surf session with them. Plus knowing that surfing may have just changed their lives forever is awesome!
Rob began his career on the shores of the UK with a second-hand bodyboard and an undeniable enthusiasm for catching waves. Little did Rob know that this particular dog-chewed second-hand board would become the catalyst for years of professional success on the ocean. In 1996, after a solid performance at the World Championships in Hawaii, Rob finished the year as the highest-ranked European on the planet. This was the turning point that saw the end of self-funding and welcomed the opportunity for an exciting full-time professional surf career.
Over Rob's extensive career he travelled the world competing in bodyboard competitions, claiming numerous championship titles in the process. Alongside his time on the water, Rob also worked for the illustrious Carve Surf Magazine and its bodyboarding sister - ThreeSixty. As if there weren't already enough strings to Rob's ocean based bow, after representing England and Britain himself, he turned his efforts towards coaching. As the British Surf Team coach, Rob took the team to events in Ecuador, Portugal, France, Brazil and South-Africa. The most impressive accolade coming at the World Championships in California where Rob led the British team to their best ever ranking of 8th place in the world.
With a degree in Business & Finance under his belt, alongside a worldly wealth of surfing experience, Rob had all the tools needed to create something special back in his beloved hometown of Newquay. This substantial involvement in planning, surfing, bodyboarding and coaching has organically grown Newquay Activity Centre into the successful company that it is today.
Organising the practical side of the business is bookings coordinator and experienced outdoor instructor Simon Firth. Simon has lived and breathed the great outdoors since his school days. Being a keen bodyboarder, snowboarder and climber, as well as a father to two adventurous boys, Simon definitely knows what it means to appreciate the outdoors as much as possible. His enthusiasm for the outdoors has taken him to countries such as Australia, the Maldives, South Africa, America and Italy.
Simon's passion for adventure has seen him gain a whole host of qualifications and university degrees, including a BA Hons in Adventure Education and a BA Hons in Physical Education. Simon prides himself on helping customers fully understand any activity they may be interested in, reassuring them on every aspect along the way.
With over 20 years of industry experience, Simon is such a staple part of the Newquay Activity Centre crew. He has worked in many centres throughout his career including PGL Travel, EBO Adventure and Skern Lodge Outdoor Activity Centre. Working in these centres as an instructor, Simon's skills and experience saw him rise up into management roles, overseeing the safety and daily running of the centres.