Birmingham BSAC 25 are a scuba-diving club, based in Birmingham in the West Midlands, and are branch number 25 of the British Sub Aqua Club (BSAC).
We can be found on Monday evenings from 8.45pm at Stechford Cascades Leisure Centre (located four miles to the east of Birmingham city centre and within a twenty minute drive of Solihull and Sutton Coldfield).
We have around forty members of varying levels of scuba diving experience, from complete beginners to some who have been divers for more than forty years, and with ages ranging between fourteen and sixty-plus. Although many learned to dive within the BSAC system, approximately one-quarter of our active divers hold diving qualifications from other training agencies (PADI, SSI, NAUI, SAA, CMAS etc).
Despite Birmingham's far-inland location, we are an active club. We aim to provide accessible recreational scuba-diving and diver training for the benefit of all our members.
Our diving is organised by members for our members and guests, primarily at inland and coastal venues around Britain, but occasionally also overseas. Dives are selected to suit our members' varied diving qualification and experience levels, as well as their financial means. Because it adds to flexibility and affordability (and fun) of diving trips, we maintain and use our own rigid hulled inflatable boat (RIB).
We are passionate about UK diving and dive throughout the year, visiting our local inland dive sites regularly in the winter months. We have open water meetings there at weekends every three to four weeks, and in the summer months also meet on Friday evenings (unless we are away diving at the coast for a weekend). During the summer season, we aim for a sea diving event once every month.
Our members have a wide range of diving interests including nautical archaeology, marine life conservation and surveying (and cooking!), underwater photography and videography. Under the Nautical Archaeology Society's Adopt-a-Wreck scheme, we have adopted the trawler/minesweeper HMS Elk in Plymouth Sound, and have conducted surveys of her.
We are quick to embrace new advances in the sport: For over a decade we have had closed circuit rebreather and mixed gas divers amongst our members.
Hundreds have learned to dive safely with us. We offer BSAC diver training across all levels from complete beginner through to the Ocean Diver qualification, and then on up to and including Advanced Diver; and we take great pride in the quality of our diver training.
We have a dedicated team of instructors, all of whom are volunteers who teach scuba to share their enjoyment of the sport and to develop their own personal skills. Some of our team are also active within the BSAC Regional Coaching and Instructor Training schemes, which ensures that we are kept up-to-date with all the latest thinking in scuba diving and instructing techniques, skills and equipment.
Many of our new members initially learned to dive with PADI or other similar agencies, often in warm and clear tropical waters. Our instructors are therefore experienced in introducing such divers to the challenges and delights of UK diving and training them to Sports Diver level (and beyond) so that they can participate in the best adventurous temperate water diving.
We take our responsibilities with respect to the training of young people and vulnerable adults very seriously and adhere to BSAC's Safeguarding Policy. All our instructors who work with such members voluntarily undergo CRB checks.
Club members meet up at our regular Monday evening pool sessions at Stechford Cascades where they can undertake training, try out scuba diving equipment, snorkel or just swim. Guests are welcome to visit. Please look for us in the pool spectator area from 8.45pm.
Afterwards we have a social gathering, to chat about and plan diving, at the nearby Sheldon Heath Social Club.
We enjoy other get-togethers, especially over a beer at a pub. We have our own beer, Bar Pressure, available from time-to-time at the Griffin Inn near Shustoke.
The club organises other social events according to the interests of members and their families. These have included barbecues, buffet meals, cinema visits (to see diving related features), beer festivals, paintballing and tobogganing at the Tamworth SnowDome.
We were formed as a BSAC branch in 1955, although the BSAC scrap book records a press cutting from the Birmingham Gazette in May 1954 marking a first meeting of those who planned to form the first "frogmen's club" in Birmingham.
Since then the club has always been active. Some of our early members were prominent in the UK national diving scene, and were exploring dive sites in remote parts of the world when holiday travel abroad was still uncommon. The club has changed swimming pool and social venues several times but has always maintained at least one weekly pool meeting, and always owned at least one boat for members to use.
We celebrated our fiftieth anniversary in 2005 with a dinner-dance at the Midland Hotel in Birmingham (venue for that original founding meeting in 1954) attended by many of our current and former members, and then BSAC Chairman, Marcus Allen. We also completed fifty laps of Dosthill Quarry with each diver placing an underwater 'candle' (chemical flourescent glowstick) on our birthday 'cake'.
We are looking forward to our sixtieth anniversary celebrations in 2015!