I use science to be a Surf Instructor

Name: Ben Clifford
Job Title: Adaptive Surf Instructor & Director Surfability UK

Name: Ben Clifford
Job Title: Adaptive Surf Instructor & Director Surfability UK

Ben is the founder and director of Surfability UK – an inclusive, adapted surf school. Ben and Surfability design, build and adapt surfboards and teach surfing, to ensure that anyone, regardless of additional needs, can get out on the water and learn to surf. Ben combines different technologies and engineering ideas to develop the boards to different people’s needs. He has also learned how to start and run a business, such as how to secure funding. Ben has been so influential in adaptive and inclusive surfing that he coaches the Welsh Adaptive Surfing Team and co-wrote the Adaptive Surf Instructor Qualification.

Ben is the founder and director of Surfability UK – an inclusive, adapted surf school. Ben and Surfability design, build and adapt surfboards and teach surfing, to ensure that anyone, regardless of additional needs, can get out on the water and learn to surf. Ben combines different technologies and engineering ideas to develop the boards to different people’s needs. He has also learned how to start and run a business, such as how to secure funding. Ben has been so influential in adaptive and inclusive surfing that he coaches the Welsh Adaptive Surfing Team and co-wrote the Adaptive Surf Instructor Qualification.

When people think about STEM, they think about academic occupations. But what I do is mostly outdoors in an extreme sport, but still STEM has such a big role to play."

Some days I’ll be here all day- in the water all day- teaching people, surfing lots. Other days I’ll be in the office, applying for funding, thinking of how we can improve kit and equipment and finding ways to make that and fund that. Then just the general day to day running of the company.

Science is so important for what we do and we’re looking at how we can combine different technologies. It all comes together to create this amazing tool for inclusion – it’s built on a lot of technology.

When I was at school I loved science. I always found it fascinating learning about the world and how it works.

Don’t ever think that something is impossible. What we’ve done is allowed people who are quadriplegic to become surfers…people who cannot swim, who can barely do anything for themselves, are surfers like everyone else is. With technology now, young people especially have access to communication and information like no-one has ever, ever had before. That was impossible 30 years ago, so never think that things are impossible.

When people think about STEM, they think about academic occupations. But what I do is mostly outdoors in an extreme sport, but still STEM has such a big role to play. Science and technology impact so many things that we do. Even if we don’t work in STEM, we can use STEM in whatever we do.

When people think about STEM, they think about academic occupations. But what I do is mostly outdoors in an extreme sport, but still STEM has such a big role to play."

Some days I’ll be here all day- in the water all day- teaching people, surfing lots. Other days I’ll be in the office, applying for funding, thinking of how we can improve kit and equipment and finding ways to make that and fund that. Then just the general day to day running of the company.

Science is so important for what we do and we’re looking at how we can combine different technologies. It all comes together to create this amazing tool for inclusion – it’s built on a lot of technology.

When I was at school I loved science. I always found it fascinating learning about the world and how it works.

Don’t ever think that something is impossible. What we’ve done is allowed people who are quadriplegic to become surfers…people who cannot swim, who can barely do anything for themselves, are surfers like everyone else is. With technology now, young people especially have access to communication and information like no-one has ever, ever had before. That was impossible 30 years ago, so never think that things are impossible.

When people think about STEM, they think about academic occupations. But what I do is mostly outdoors in an extreme sport, but still STEM has such a big role to play. Science and technology impact so many things that we do. Even if we don’t work in STEM, we can use STEM in whatever we do.

Starting a Business

Ben turned his love of surfing into a business idea, but also a way to help people. Ben set up Surfability UK to be a ‘community interest company’ (where business profits are used for the public good), rather than a charity, so he could access extra funding and expand.

  • A loan is an amount of money that you will be expected to pay back over time.

  • A grant is an amount of money that you will not be expected to pay back.

When starting a business as a young person, there are many places that you can apply to for small grants to help you get started and test your ideas. Often, these come with training courses to teach you how to manage money and grow a business. For example, Ben received money and training from The Prince’s Trust to start Surfability.

To apply for grants you usually have to be 18, but some groups will fund younger people too, for example UnLtd will support over 16s.

Prospects has great tips on setting up a business, find out more here.

There are also fantastic tips from young entrepreneurs in the UK here.

Ben turned his love of surfing into a business idea, but also a way to help people. Ben set up Surfability UK to be a ‘community interest company’ (where business profits are used for the public good), rather than a charity, so he could access extra funding and expand.

  • A loan is an amount of money that you will be expected to pay back over time.

  • A grant is an amount of money that you will not be expected to pay back.

When starting a business as a young person, there are many places that you can apply to for small grants to help you get started and test your ideas. Often, these come with training courses to teach you how to manage money and grow a business. For example, Ben received money and training from The Prince’s Trust to start Surfability.

To apply for grants you usually have to be 18, but some groups will fund younger people too, for example UnLtd will support over 16s.

Prospects has great tips on setting up a business, find out more here.

There are also fantastic tips from young entrepreneurs in the UK here.

Career Path

You don’t have to have any particular GCSEs, A-levels or a university degree to start or run a business in the United Kingdom. However, taking courses in Business or related subjects (for example Law) will certainly help in understanding how to do business in the UK. Many business ideas also start from a passion, hobby, or interest. By studying what you’re interested in – whether science, geography, art, carpentry, plumbing or anything else – you will always gain experience and knowledge that you can draw from when developing a business idea.

You don’t have to have any particular GCSEs, A-levels or a university degree to start or run a business in the United Kingdom. However, taking courses in Business or related subjects (for example Law) will certainly help in understanding how to do business in the UK. Many business ideas also start from a passion, hobby, or interest. By studying what you’re interested in – whether science, geography, art, carpentry, plumbing or anything else – you will always gain experience and knowledge that you can draw from when developing a business idea.