About Wild & Free

"You need water. And water needs you now.
I wish you water."

Dr Wallace J. Nichols, bestselling author of Blue Mind and Ambassador to Wild and Free Therapy

Wild and Free Therapy CIC is a non-profit organisation formed in February 2022 by three friends who have a shared passion for the sea, surfing, and connecting people through social joy. We have now reached over 100 participants, working with local charities, schools, and other public bodies, and securing a number of small grants from local and national funders.

Wild and Free Therapy specialises in surf therapy programmes for children, young people and their parents/carers in Bournemouth and surrounding areas across Dorset. We prioritise physical and mental wellbeing which means ensuring opportunities for aiding participants to access activities that promote a healthy body and mind such as surfing, paddle boarding, yoga and outdoor play therapy.

We are fortunate to have the ocean on our doorstep and a beautiful landscape to host our diverse work. Our programmes embrace the therapeutic effects of being in, on and by, the ocean and every programme and session is uniquely designed around the participant or group.

Our Vision

A joined-up community united through the ocean and nature.

Our Mission

Harnessing the healing powers of the ocean and nature to deliver therapeutic programmes to create a healthy, vibrant and unified community.

Our values

Barrier-free access to Blue Space, creating an attainable, accessible and affordable service to those who most need it
Learning and improving through ongoing reflection, self-evaluation and client feedback to continually improve and grow
Undiscriminating in the delivery of our programmes to minority community groups most at need of curative support
Empowering our clients with tools to flourish in life.

Meet the Team

Emily

Director

Adaptive Surf Instructor, SUP Coach & Adaptive Surf Lead

Favourite things: Musical theatre, tennis, caravanning, jam doughnuts.

Random fact: Emily has seen Bon Jovi play live eight times, including the last ever concert held at the historic old Wembley Stadium before its demolition, on 20th August 2020.

Jane

Director

Open Water Swimming Coach, Swimming Teacher, SLSGB Surf Lifeguard

Favourite things: Pickled beetroot, swimming in the rain, overcoming barriers.

Random fact: Jane has done what was at the time the world’s highest bungee jump (216 metres high) off of a bridge in South Africa.

Johnny

head coach

Mentor, Adaptive Surf Instructor, Mental Health & Trauma Informed Practitioner, Yoga Teacher

Favourite things: Afro-Cuban Salsa, yoga, meditation, altruism.

Random fact: Johnny has visited 53 countries, surfed in 23, and speaks 5 languages.

Volunteers

Our work relies upon our dedicated volunteers who give their time and commitment for the benefit of our participants.  We ensure that all of our volunteers undergo thorough inductions and training prior to joining our team, and that their skill mix and personality fit with our ethos and working methods.  All volunteers hold a current enhanced DBS cetificate.

We welcome new volunteers who can contribute in some way to the delivery of our programmes.  You do not need to be able to surf! Our sessions are held at various times of the week, weekends and school holidays so we welcome individuals who would like to contribute on an ad hoc or regular basis.

What our volunteers say:

A key member of our volunteer team, Tori, said, “I absolutely love going to the sessions, I truly enjoy meeting the young people and making new friendships. Wherever there is a human being, there is an opportunity for a kindness… and that’s what I see and feel working with the team. It’s been a pleasure and a joy to join in with the sessions over the last two years and I can’t wait for more this coming year.”

Volunteer Chloe said, “I can’t express enough how fulfilling the experience was for me volunteering with Wild and Free. Working alongside a dedicated team of passionate volunteers, we opened the world of saltwater therapy to children, teaching them surfing, paddleboarding, and fostering a love for nature. Witnessing the kids grow in confidence and skills while immersing themselves in the elements was incredibly rewarding. Wild and Free isn’t just about activities; it’s about empowering children to embrace the world around them, building both self-assurance and invaluable life skills. An enriching opportunity that truly makes a difference in young lives!”

Enquire with us to find out how you can become a member of our wonderful team.

Surf therapy volunteers

Ambassadors

We’re extremely proud to have ambassadors on board who, like us, are driven by a passion for the ocean and the benefits that it brings.

Wallace J Nichols - ambassador

Dr Wallace J. Nichols

Marine Biologist and author of Blue Mind

Dr Wallace J. Nichols is a marine biologist and the bestselling author of Blue Mind: How Water Makes You Happier, More Connected and Better at what You Do. He has been instrumental in advancing the Blue Mind movement, which explores the cognitive, emotional, psychological, and social benefits of water.

“The science is clear: water and nature are good medicine for those who need it most, and everyone else. Now our challenge is to make Blue Mind common knowledge and practice, accessible to everyone on Earth. That’s why I enthusiastically support Wild & Free Therapy — and programs like theirs around the world.”

Charlotte Banrield Wild and Free Therapy Ambassador

Charlotte Banfield

World Adaptive surf champion

Charlotte Banfield is a world para-surfing champion having won gold in the Stand 3 category in the 2023 ISA World Para Surfing Championships in California.
Charlotte, from Penyrn in Cornwall, says, “I am excited to be supporting Wild and Free Therapy, because it resonates with my own self-discovery of my love for surfing, after taking part in a surf therapy course 12 years ago. Surfing frees my mind, washes my negative thoughts away, fills my heart and lets my soul run wild. Surf therapy can be a game changer for someone experiencing mental health struggles.”

Charlotte, who has cerebral palsy, epilepsy and autism, told us: “By being an Ambassador I hope to help raise awareness about surf therapy and get more people involved. Equally, and just as important, a big goal of mine is to spread awareness of para surfing, and showing people who are going through difficult times that they are strong enough to overcome their difficulties.”

Ben Clifford - ambassador

Ben Clifford

Director, Surfability UK CIC

Ben is Director and Head Coach of Surfability UK CIC, and team manager for Wales’ adaptive surfing team. Since setting up Surfability in 2013, Ben has been at the forefront of surf therapy and adaptive surfing in the UK, with a focus on inclusion in surfing at both a grass roots and an elite level.

Supporters

We’re grateful for the involvement and commitment of these local organisations. If you would like to find out more about partnering with us, we’d love to hear from you, whether you’re thinking about corporate sponsorship, business or product collaborations, other funding/grants, or are a local charitable organisation or school.

The DCF has referred dozens of children for surf therapy and paddle board therapy over the last two years. Feedback from children and parents has been wonderful, and we are so delighted to have been able to support these invaluable opportunities to allow children with a whole range of disabilities to experience this therapeutic and exhilarating opportunity that they may never have considered possible. The team are amazing advocates for inclusion and accessibility and have such a depth of experience and understanding and adapt their sessions to suit the needs of each individual family. We are excited to continue our work with Wild and Free Therapy and support even more children in 2024.”

Patsy Hallmey

Founder and CEO, The Dorset Children's FOundation

Get involved!

Contact us to take part, volunteer, donate or find out more.