CYPRUS. Introducing ASI SUP Instructor, Mandy Brooks. Currently based in Cyprus, after 30 years of service Mandy is about to leave the UK Armed Forces, to help her resettle from military to civilian life she is about to embark on her SUP instructor career after recently qualifying as an ASI SUP Instructor. We caught up with Mandy recently and she told us all about her future with SUP and how Covid-19 has affected her.
Tell us a bit about yourself, how did you get involved with SUP?
I am about to leave the UK Armed Forces after 30 years’ service (Military Police) and so was first assigned here in Cyprus in 2008. I’ve been in and out of the country over the last 12 years, but always had my own home here (loved it so much!).
My journey with SUP professionally really started in 2017, I found ASI in 2018 and worked with your UK guys to help me resettle from military to civilian life.
I’d booked my instructor course in Cornwall (having visited and had a one on one lesson with Glen in Nov 18) for May 19 when I was given notice that I was being deployed to the Middle East for 6 months.
Absolutely gutted I had to cancel the course; returning to Cyprus in Nov 19 with really little or no option to get qualified in the UK over the winter period.
Again, ASI stood up to the task and were amazing helping me find a trainer and a suitable location that the military would authorise.
I was taught by Melinda Belumi (ASI Trainer) of Blue Pearl in Doha, Qatar in Jan 20 and then spent 2 weeks with Blue Pearl on a civilian work attachment. I managed to complete my assistant instructor hours and so left Qatar fully qualified. It was a huge achievement as so many obstacles had affected my path.
I wrote a blog for my family and military friends, trying to communicate how it was leaving the bounds of the military and fully embracing the huge difference in civilian life.
Then COVID19 hit and the world changed in an instant.
How was lockdown in Cyprus?
Cyprus locked down very quickly, we weren’t permitted to leave home unless we’d had authority from the government (via a text service) and that was really restrictive (but in a good way). The Police were fining people for abusing the system (€300).
I’d been in the UK when the lockdown happened here, flying back on 23 March when Cyprus had been locked down for 10 days already. I immediately went into 14 days self-isolation and it was tough, and lonely to be honest. Social media and loved ones got me through it.
SUP here in Cyprus was also really tough, only recently the beaches were open to swimming and then, after that SUP was authorised. I find it amazing to think that in such a short time the Med (here) has recovered. No plastic, the sea incredibly clear and marine life venturing back into our Bay (Pissouri Bay).
Now that lockdown is over, what are you doing now?
Now I’ve started work for our Military Watersports Center for my terminal leave (sounds awful doesn’t it - terminal leave) but effectively it’s my last month in the Military. I am having an amazing time teaching SUP to our soldiers!
I’ve also kick started my own business (Pissouri Bay SUP) and am about to enrol as an ASI School (you guys have been helping me work out the whole licence/insurance part).
Beyond that (as tourist numbers are obviously in significant decline) I’ve managed to secure a position as an instructor with Blue Pearl for the ‘winter season’ in Doha (going back to my roots!).
So, as I leave the military and paddle into a brand-new horizon in so many ways, I am absolutely counting my blessings for having had an amazing career with the Military and now, embarking on another awesome career as a SUP Instructor at the ripe old age of 48!!
ASI has really been my guiding light.
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