It was a big day for our friends at Surfer Against Sewage, who are celebrating their 30th anniversary this year alongside their new Royal patronage, and it was a big day for us too – it’s one thing meeting Prince Charles (who is known by his title the Duke of Cornwall when he’s visiting the county), it’s a whole other thing watching him sign one of our surfboards. If you’d told us a decade ago that in ten years time we’d have met His Royal Highness a couple of times, visiting his Highgrove Estate to collect timber to make a special bellyboard to present to him in 2018 and then using that same timber to make a surfboard to signify his patronage of SAS, it would have been very difficult to conceive or believe. We are incredibly grateful to SAS’s CEO Hugo Tagholm for those opportunities, and it has been an honour to be involved in these events.
Friday’s Royal reception took place at Skol Nansledan, a newly opened primary school built on Duchy land on the outskirts of Newquay, and was attended by members of the surf, environmentalist and sustainable business communities in Cornwall as well as by Surfer’s Against Sewages Board of Trustees, founder and former leaders of the charity. It was lovely to see so many friends and familiar faces in the room, to know that there is such a strong community backing SAS’s work and pushing the marine conservation message through their own work also. Having a pair of our surfboards stood at the front of the room, one on a pair of trestles holding an inlaid plaque made from a piece of timber from Prince Charles’ favourite tree at Highgrove that he signed, was an incredibly proud moment for us.
“Having tried to do a bit of surfing myself forty something years ago, rather unsuccessfully, I only wish I was still able to do it and try out this board, but I’m not!”
– His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales
His Royal Highness’ Patronage is incredible recognition of the progress and achievements that SAS has made over the last three decades to protect our ocean. The charity was founded in May 1990 in response to chronic and widespread sewage pollution of the UK coastline that meant that bathing waters were struggling to achieve the necessary health standards of the time. Today over 98% of UK beaches meet modern standards, which is an amazing success story. Becoming a registered charity in 2012, these days Surfers Against Sewage focus on a range of marine conservation issues including plastic pollution, water quality, climate change and the re-wilding of our oceans. They now mobilise over 100,000 community volunteers around the UK for their series of beach clean events and through their plastic free communities and schools initiatives. The charity’s work represents a powerful example of positive environmental activism leading to dramatic and tangible conservation success, and provides a powerful story of hope for some of the biggest issues our ocean faces today.
“We have been thrilled to work closely with His Royal Highness over the last few years, to highlight the plight of our ocean and to promote positive, sustainable solutions for a bluer future, where the ocean truly thrives again. I would like to welcome His Royal Highness as our first Patron in such an auspicious year for us where we celebrate 30 years of positive and hopeful activism that is delivering real change to protect our beaches, coastline and ocean for everyone.”
– Hugo Tagholm, SAS CEO
To read about our visit to Highgrove, where we dug through Prince Charle’s wood pile with his Estate Team to select timber for this special surfboard, and about the royal family’s fascinating historic links with surfing, click through to read our previous story Royal Oak.
All images: Surfers Against Sewage/Mat Arney. Our Mat attended Friday’s Royal reception as official event photographer for Surfers Against Sewage, meaning that one way or another he’s documented every stage of our royal wooden surfboard project.