World Ocean Day: Waves – Our North Star, by Hugo Tagholm

Hugo Tagholm is the chief executive of Surfers Against Sewage

World Ocean Day provides a moment for us to unite to reflect on the importance of the ocean to us all, the vital service it provides to us all each and every day, no matter where we live. The water we drink, the air we breathe, it’s all connected to the sea. The sea from which all life first sprung. A vast and seemingly inexhaustible body of water, filled with vast and endless resources. Or so we thought.

One renewable resource that keeps on coming is the waves. It’s waves that first brought Surfers Against Sewage to life.

The simple act of surfing on the wild and beautiful Cornish coastline that brought surfers into contact with pollution, that made them question the damage that was being done to the sea, that gave birth to an organisation that thrives today in challenging the escalating threats to our Planet Ocean. The charity literally came from the waves.

Surfing is a great privilege, something that I recognize each and every time I’m in the water. This wonderfully pointless act brings us so much. Health and wellbeing, a connection to nature, an equilibrium and a shot of adrenaline. But, with great privilege comes great responsibility. This privilege makes each and every day about the ocean for us.

The unbridled passion for exploring, diving into and cutting across waves provides the renewable energy for our campaigns and community projects to protect, restore and safeguard surf and ocean ecosystems for everyone.

Surfing is a solitary act but the stoke it provides can be harnessed for good people and planet. There are now countless NGOs and charities emerging from this stoke. The passion for the ocean, the energy it gives transformed into impact in so many places, tackling poverty, inequality, educational needs, environmental issues, deprivation and so much more.  The passion for riding waves is the kernel from which we have been able to build our charity and all the impact we have been able to deliver. Changing legislation on plastic and water quality, engaging millions of citizens in action, and driving a wave of positive change for our beaches. For everyone.

Being in and around the ocean, riding waves and surfing, is the North Start for Surfers Against Sewage. We will never forget this.

Today we are more than surfers and more than sewage. But our roots and passion will never change. This is what defines us and keep us true to our mission.