Able2Do Anything: Achievements

Disabled friends aim to break a new record

 Shaun Gash and Mohammed Salim Patel

Two friends have set themselves quite a challenge - not only to break down barriers for disabled people wanting to scuba dive, but to set a world record whilst they are at it.

Shaun Gash and Mohammed Salim Patel, from Lancashire, have been best mates for a number of years, both have their own physical challenges.

They had the bold idea a while ago, but it took them a while to find an instructor who believed in them.

Patel, 29, was diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa at the age of 10, doctors told him one day he would lose all his vision.

The BBC journalist said his sight started to deteriorate when he was 15, which he struggled to come to terms with.

"Throughout my life I've come across negativity and it motivates me," he told BBC News.

"Every time I mention it to someone they say, 'well what are you going to get out of it because you can't see?'

"But for me it's always a question of 'well why not?'”

Gash was involved in a life-changing car accident 33 years ago when a vehicle a friend was driving overturned going round a corner.

The 53-year-old and dad-of-three broke his back, shoulder and punctured his lungs. He is lucky to be alive after doctors gave him two days to live.

But sessions at the spinal injury rehabilitation centre changed his life forever, it was there where he met his wife Dawn.

"I couldn't see where my life was going to take me," he said.

"I was thinking 'who was going to have me? Who's going to marry me? How am I going to have children?'

"Everything I do, Dawn's always been behind me, same with my kids.

"We're a family of adventurers."

Both men were eager to take up diving, but they could not find anyone to become their mentor.

“When I first started looking into diving, I contacted a number of different companies," Gash said.

"As soon as you mention disabilities, as soon as you mention paralysis there are a lot of barriers put up."

Patel said: "[They were] silly excuses not to be able to do it, and I think it's because of lack of awareness.

"But we're both the type of people that will not accept no as an answer."

Eventually Curly, an Egyptian diving instructor at Morecambe Area Divers saw past their disabilities and agreed to help. 

Gash and Patel now have a mission to achieve, to become the first blind person and paraplegic amputee to have dived together.

"We want to spread the word that diving is for everybody, for every ability," Gash said.

"Because we are all equal underwater."

Patel said: "We can show people, there's nothing to actually stop you [doing something].

"Apart from what's in your head."

[ Scuba stands for “Self contained underwater breathing apparatus”. ]

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