For April 2024’s Meet the Member we spoke to Samantha Norton, known to her friends as Sammy. She’s 28 years old and has been scuba diving and a BSAC member for 14 years, reaching Dive Leader with an Assistant Open Water Instructor qualification. 

How did you get into diving? 

I was a sea cadet for many years and one of the sea cadet instructors came into one of the sessions and taught us some basic signs and signals people use while scuba diving. A friend rang me a few days after and asked if I wanted to go to the try dive and give it a go. I am so glad I did because I loved it!! This was my first experience breathing underwater, loved every minute and I have hardly come up for air since.  

Sammy in brief

  • Age: 28
  • Years diving: 14
  • Current grade: Dive Leader
  • Instructor grade: Assistant Diving Instructor
  • Member of: Barnsley and Dearne Valley
  • Bucket list dive: Galapogos Islands

What was learning to dive with BSAC like?

I originally joined Barnsley BSAC Divers at the age of fourteen. The club and its members were amazing with me. Made me feel so comfortable and welcome. I have dyslexia and have always struggled with academics, and hence the theory side of the learning for diving. But by working with the club instructors and having one-to-one sessions in the theory lessons with the same instructor, I eventually passed Ocean Diver. I was so proud of myself.   

I remember walking into the pool on club night and being nervous. The first person I saw, who I was drawn to, was Sammy. She was talking and giggling with someone. She resonated fun. 
She is an immensely helpful young lady and a massive asset to both the clubs she is a member of. The clubs would not be the same without her. Her experience in diving is invaluable to anyone new to diving. She has a way when teaching that captures you, draws you in and you remember and cling to every word or skill she has taught. - Kathy

Tell us about your first dives

The first time I experienced open water was at Capernwray. It was in a drysuit that didn’t fit and it was too small. The hood was also small. I hated completing the skills as I struggled with my ears and mask clearing. But seeing the fish, the clear water, being in and around the objects in Capernwray was amazing and exciting. I was underwater!! 

The first time I dived in the sea was at Green Ends Gully. It was a struggle to get kitted up but once I was in the water, again it was amazing. I felt so free. I had never seen a lobster or a crab or felt anything like this before. When I got out, I was buzzing.  

Sammy has submerged herself into the world of diving and is enthusiastic about all things diving-related.- Richard

Being under water is my passion. Taking in all the sights, the feeling I get, and seeing all the nature that I would have never seen or experienced if I had not learnt to dive. No other words can describe being underwater than ‘wow.’ An utter calmness comes over me and I feel connected to the water.   

Can you share a memorable experience with us?

In 2012, when I was sixteen and still an Ocean Diver the club involved conducted a rescue. Unfortunately, even after all the club’s best efforts, this man lost his life. The hardest part was after. It was something difficult to experience for everyone involved. The club were amazing and the organisation afterwards checked in on everyone to offer counselling etc. We could not have asked for more. I was out of the water for a bit and the club could not do enough for me till I was ready to get back into the water.  

Perfectly buoyant with incredible clear underwater instructional signalling skills. Samantha instils confidence and calmness to all her trainees. - Malcolm

This will always resonate with me. The club will always remember this, and safety is a top priority of the club. I will always drill the safety and rescue skills into my students repeatedly. As I have seen first-hand why this is important.  

After I did Sports Diver, I was eager and move onto the assistant instructor route when another local club were on the lookout for instructors. Dearne Valley Divers. I was approached and I wanted to go and help. Given it was just down the road for me I agreed to lend a hand in exchange for some experience and tips for a newly qualified assistant instructor. 

Sammy Norton

What does being in a BSAC club mean to you? 

I am lucky to be a member of two clubs, Dearne Valley divers and Barnsley BSAC divers. I love both clubs, it is the people of these clubs, the members and I love teaching. Passing on my skills and knowledge to other new divers coming into these clubs.  

Both clubs offer an enjoyable environment to be able to learn to dive. There are plenty of accessible trips for all levels at both clubs. I am always involved and love to travel with both clubs year after year. I still learn each time I dive. Thanks to the more experienced members of each club.  

Sammy is a very competent and enthusiastic diver. I hope she succeeds in her ambition to become an OWI. - Ann

I have made friendships that I hope are going to last a lifetime. I do not just see two dive clubs; I see an extended family. If you were to pick up the phone to anyone in both clubs and ask for advice, help and reassurance they would be someone to help you in an instance. I hope to always be available for both clubs to help, teach and pass on my experience to anyone that needs it.  

What motivates you?

Throughout the years I have found that I love underwater photography. I love finding all the little, tiny underwater animals and capturing them. Then to return to the surface and show other divers. I love it when other divers say, ‘How did you spot that?.’  

I also like finding octopuses and could sit there for hours watching them. They are fascinating and so inquisitive. I know it has been a good dive if someone spots an octopus. The motivation to spot all the creatures and life in the water, is always there in me.   

Sammy is an experienced and knowledgeable assistant diving instructor. Generous with her time, with high standards and always willing to help.- Mark

Believe me, motivation is needed when someone thought it was a good idea to go diving on the 2nd of January. You pull up to Stoney Cove car park, there are three of you in a campervan and its cold and raining. It may be warmer in the water at 4 degrees, but you really do not want to get out the campervan. They say that if you can dive in England, you can dive anywhere, right? At that moment, you have nothing but motivation to spur you on! 

Once I am kitted up, walk to the water (giving some of the swimmers a funny look on the way to the water as they just have a swimsuit on), then get in the water, you then realise you are actually doing the dive. There is no better feeling. You are with your mates and all doing what you all love. No matter the temperature, no matter the weather, I will dive. That is the motivation, knowing that when you are in the water, you love it.

Sammy is a very kind-hearted and admirable person who never fails to put a smile on other people’s faces with her jokes and humour. She is very hardworking and talented in everything that she does, making her very admirable! - Kassie (young member)

Sammy Norton

What challenges have you overcome? 

Two years ago I went on my first liveaboard with the club to Egypt on the Get Wrecked itinerary. I was incredibly nervous right up to getting on the plane. I had not really travelled abroad, and not done any wreck diving before. I had not even dived in open water in just a wetsuit, always a drysuit. On the first day of diving, I hated it. All my good buoyancy went out the window. It was like I had forgotten how to dive, and I was all over the place. But my friend, my buddy and my dive instructor were there to talk some sense into me. Without this friend and the support, I would not have fulfilled a lifelong dream and that was seeing dolphins in the wild. Wow wasn’t that challenge worth it. 

With diving I face challenges all the time. I am always afraid of the ‘new’ and am afraid of the unknown. Fear and shy away from it. This is due to not having much confidence in myself. I was forever told at school that I will not be do things because I have dyslexia or being told I am rubbish at certain tasks. The challenge I have currently is the fight that goes off in my own mind. I want to progress further in diving. So, to get over this negative confidence in myself is a massive challenge.  

What scuba training comes next?

My next steps would be the courses Practical Instructor Exam (PIE) and Theory Instructor Exam (TIE). I keep shying away from this due to the theory aspect and because I have no confidence. Speaking to the BSAC group at the dive show helped me realise that this may be possible because I know that BSAC can help me through this, with my dyslexia as they have helped others too. I know both my clubs would support me through this as well, but the challenge is to be mentally ready and have that can do attitude.  

What would you like to see change?

The place I think needs looking at is the training material for younger members. I have found that this does have some complicated language. If BSAC could just simplify simple terms and phrases throughout out their training, it would make it better to understand for the younger members and then in turn, may appeal to the younger audience. 

Tell us about your dive plans 

This year I have an extremely exciting opportunity to dive the Isles of Scilly, which will be diving that I have not done before but will hopefully lead to some exceptionally good photo opportunities. 

The trip I am really looking forward to is diving the Galapagos islands next year. I cannot stop researching this trip, getting ready and being really excited to be in this part of the world. Hopefully, I will get to dive with the hammerhead sharks. Another bucket list experience. 

Sammy Norton

What would you say to someone thinking of joining BSAC? 

All my experiences, my learning journey in diving and many of my skills could not have been developed without the help of BSAC. I am proud to be a part of it. They offer great lessons, advice, and development opportunities. You are not just part of a club but are made to feel part of BSAC in the wider community and BSAC as a whole.  

I love keeping up to date with what is happening with BSAC and always learning more! 



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