British diving industry stalwart Caroline Sampson dies
Caroline Sampson of Anglesey Divers died on Saturday 8 June 2019. She had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer on Friday 24 May, just days after her 51st birthday.
The original business name was the 'Anglesey Diving Centre', and it was established in the late 1970s by Fred and Brenda Hughes.
On 1 May 1989 aged 27, an enthusiastic Martin Sampson left Bristol and headed for Holy Island. At the time he was a design engineer in polymers and his intention was to take a gap year and teach scuba diving in North Wales. Instead he fell in love with the place, hence it was not long before his girlfriend Caroline moved to Anglesey to join him later that summer. They have never left.
Caroline was not just Martin's girlfriend. She was his life partner. The pair were both members of The Bristol Diving Club, affectionately known as "Bristol No3" BSAC. They had met at the dive club because Martin was one of Caroline's instructors. The fellow Bristolians first date was on the 5 March 1985 and they subsquently got married on 11 May 1991 in Bristol. (Fred Hughes played the bagpipes at their wedding evening party).
Martin and Caroline subsequently bought the business in 1991 and established the 'Anglesey Diver Training College'.
We were the first diving business of any description to advertise an email address. Martin Sampson, Anglesey Divers
"We renamed it Anglesey Divers in 1996. We were the first diving business of any description to advertise an email address, but Anglesey Diver Training College was too much of a mouthful for the digital era despite our lofty status as a BSAC Centre of Excellence."
Martin Sampson, Anglesey Divers
This was in the hey day of British diving and the British Sub Aqua club not only had dive clubs but professional BSAC Schools of Excellence. Martin was a BSAC National Instructor whilst Caroline was a BSAC Advanced Instructor. Together the Sampsons ran an exemplary centre, and the calibre of trained British sea divers they certified were exceptional.
The Sampsons were forward thinking. They ran a very early tech centre (mid 90s), and adopted rebreathers, nitrox and staged diving years before this became mainstream.
BSAC pays tribute
"I got to know Caroline very early in my diving career. She and Martin ran a BSAC School of Excellence - it was one of the best centres in its day! I did a lot of work with Caroline. Her attention to detail and providing an excellent service in her Centre meant the world to her. She was the nicest person, a gem of a person. Caroline never moaned or complained. Nothing was too much for her. She was very positive and upbeat. She will be so missed by all who knew her."
Mary Tetley, CEO BSAC
Providing an excellent service in her Centre meant the world to her. She was a gem of a person. Mary Tetley, CEO BSAC
"I first came across Martin and Caroline when I was the BSAC West Midlands regional coach back in the 1980s. At the time Martin was making his way up the BSAC instructional ladder, and was clear he was a laid back, very talented guy. Caroline and Martin made quite a team because she was the driving force behind the business. She was a positive lovely lady who was very capable. Caroline ran a couple of trips on the MV Maureen and it was obvious she had organised it. Everything was perfect."
Mike Rowley, former BSAC Head of Technical Diving
If the student was a bit stressed about something. Caroline was great at sorting them out. Robin Eccles, BSAC National Instructor
"I have known Caroline and Martin for years. They are the perfect couple. I did a lot of my early diving at Anglesey, so I was familiar with Fred and Martin at Anglesey Diving Services. It was only natural that when I was working for BSAC at Ellesmere Port, we would run some of the North West and Wales events at Anglesey Divers, because it was a good setup.
Caroline was such an asset. If she was not teaching or diving, she was always ultra helpful and supportive not just to the instructors, but the students too. Especially if the student was a bit stressed about something. Caroline was great at sorting them out, but then she excelled in everything she did. She was lovely and she was always smiling.
This has been a complete shock. It has come out of the blue. After not seeing Caroline and Martin for ages, a couple of friends and I spent a very pleasant event with them about four weeks ago in Anglesey. I looked at Martin's Facebook page this afternoon. I have never seen so many tributes about someone who is not a celebrity. She is going to be missed."
Robin Eccles, BSAC National Instructor. Former Coach for the North West, London and Yorkshire regions
PADI acknowledges Caroline's contribution
Anglesey Divers became a PADI Centre in 1999. In February 2014 the training agency awarded the Sampsons a special award for 'excellence in PADI rescue diving training and for saving a life of a diver in a real incident'.
"It was with profound regret that I learned recently of Caroline Sampson’s untimely passing, so very soon after her cancer diagnosis.
Caroline’s seemingly boundless energies contributed so much to the development of scuba as a recreational activity over the years and, while building Anglesey Divers’ services and reputation together with Martin, she carved a beautiful and indelible mark in the hearts and memories of all those who were fortunate enough to have known her.
An unstinting work ethic, totally focussed on providing a safe and enjoyable experience for her divers. Simon Chance, PADI Regional Consultant
The remarkable efforts she made on behalf of the industry may be typified by the time we shared during the Scubafest events – an unstinting work ethic, totally focussed on providing a safe and enjoyable experience for her divers.
Caroline always suffused with her ready smile, regardless of the challenges put forward from moment to moment.
Caroline may have left us but the radiance of that smile, the warmth of her welcomes and the truth of her friendship will live with us always. Farewell to a true icon of the sport; sweet Caroline."
Simon Chance, PADI Regional Consultant
SSI recognise her work
"The team and I were deeply saddened to hear the news about Caroline. It was always a pleasure to visit her and get a warm smile and strong cup of tea after the drive. Visiting customers like Caroline is not always business, over the years it becomes like visiting old friends. I’ll miss those moments with her. Anglesey divers has always been a shining example of a well ran dive centre and Caroline was instrumental in building that reputation. When they agreed to become an SSI centre in 2016 it was an immensely proud moment for us. Farewell to an industry champion."
Richard Corner, Category Manager Watersports, Head UK
No one saw this coming
Martin Sampson announced Caroline's death on social media on Sunday 10 June 2019.
"As a diving instructor, expedition leader, Slimming World Consultant and recently-promoted Team Developer - her life was characterised by encouraging and enabling people to do things they wouldn't otherwise believe they could do. Her fundamental role was helping people regain self esteem. Vivacious, beautiful, witty and with a smile that could melt the coldest of hearts, how could I not have been anything but hopelessly in love with her?"
Many members of the UK recreational diving industry paid their respects, including responses from Nick Bailey (HSE Labs), Bob and Alison Boler (BSAC), Sheena Bridgman (ex Mikes Waterfront Warehouse, Cambridge), (Ed Bulmer (Mares), Sally Cartwright (SAA), Garry Dallas (RAID), Deric Ellerby (BSAC), Mark Evans (Scuba Diver Magazine), Nick Fecher (RNLI), Steve Frampton (Mulberry Divers), Richard Frost (Frogsborn Diving), Pete Greenwell (Apeks), James Hall (TDI), Jill Heinerth, Jane Maddocks (BSAC), Doug McNeese (SSI), Liz Morris-Webb (Seasearch North Wales), Martin Parker (AP Diving), Kris Pedder (Scuba Magazine), Nick Robertson-Brown (Frogfish Photography), James Rogers (RAID), Bob Scullion (IANTD), Phil Short (IANTD), Chuck Russett (BSAC), Michael Turner (Wreckers and Reefers) and Brett Thorpe (Nautilus)
Apeks Aqua Lung
"I've know Caroline and Martin for over 20 years and they are as one. She will be greatly missed and was an inspiration to many. Her whit was dry and her mind sharp, if you ever got a telling off you knew it, but she was all hugs after, as she never had a bad bone in her body. I for one used to look forward going to Anglesey Divers for all those years as Caroline used to brighten up your day. Caroline will be greatly missed."
Dean Martin, Apeks Aqua Lung
"Caroline was one of those people that I loved to chat to. Simultaneously challenging and supportive, always interested in what was going on, she was a true asset to our industry. I'll never forget my first sales visit there, when Fourth Element was totally unheard of. I was late (no surprises there - Anglesey looks so much closer on on the map!) but Caroline waited for me until well after closing time to offer me a cup of tea and some sage words of wisdom before telling me, very gently that the only reason she was giving me an order was to help me pay for my fuel! She took pity on me and I think took some pride in our later successes and was always so warm in her encouragement. We will miss her."
Jim Standing, Fourth Element
"Caroline was a UK diving stalwart. She was friendly and thoughtful, with an underlying business sense and attention to detail. She postively contributed and helped put North Wales diving on the map."
Vini Howlett, Chairman, Scuba Industries Trade Association
The Underwater Marketing Company
"I worked extensively with Caroline when I organised the Anglesey ScubaFests. Her local connections were invaluable, and she smoothed the way with the red tape, making event logistics so much easier, ie dealings with the council to get permission to use the beach.
Caroline kindly volunteered to be on the beach very early in the morning to make sure that the 'get in' for the exhibitors was easy. That really took the pressure off me because it meant that I could run breakfast at the Anglesey Outdoor Centre knowing that the trade were in safe, efficient hands. She did all of this with such a big smile."
Rosemary E Lunn, The Underwater Marketing Company
Weezle Diving Services
"We had been fellow dive business owners, working together since 2003 and I am pleased to say we became friends soon after. Always calm and efficient as a businesswoman and motivator, there was always a warm welcome and a coffee at the dive shop and a smile from the ever organised Caroline. As a friend, even if we didn’t get together often, she was kind and empathic whenever we did as well as being great fun.
It was obvious to any one, the love and closeness between Caroline, Martin and their children as well as her fierce protectiveness of and pride in her family, her husband and as a proud Moch Mon of course, her country. Caroline will be greatly missed by them all as well as by us."
Paul and Hilary Child, Weezle Diving Services
A rare couple
Martin and Caroline were a rare couple in that they were business partners, married, and still very much in love 34 years later. They had a unique and special relationship, and subsequently had two, smart, funny, compassionate, gentle children. Qualities that echo their parents. Daniel and Emma are about to respectively qualify as a lawyer and a dentist.