We would get kids from some of the roughest areas of the North and South

“I was a Surf Instructor and manager in a surf shop in Donegal, but it often felt more like a transformation camp for troubled children. We were right at the border of Northern and Southern Ireland so there were a lot of cross-border activities where we would get kids from some of the roughest areas of the North and South. Kids who had never gotten the opportunity to leave their urban cities before. They would come to Donegal, where the whole city is basically one street, it’s right beside the sea, quiet and fresh. We would take them out surfing and for long hikes. Witnessing the transformation that a single weekend could achieve always fascinated me. From their first day, when they would try to put on their wetsuit for the first time and, when they couldn’t do it, instead of asking for help, they would go straight into this aggressive mode… To the moments when we were exhausted, half-way up the hill or after they spent a day out on the sea, they would open up and talk about the challenges they face back home. I always tried to break down barriers and by the end of the weekend, after some long, exhausting days filled with different activities, these children would change completely. We were never allowed to make personal contact with them after but I think about them very often, l hoping that some of their lives have changed based on the experiences they had with us.”