Rebecca Parry, Head Of Projects At The Wave Project.

Becky Parry Head Of Projects At The Wave Project

What do you consider your greatest achievement?

Personally - Surviving a condition in pregnancy called Hyperemesis Gravidium (Severe sickness and vomiting) which left me malnourished, dehydrated and emotionally, mentally and physically exhausted for nine months, then having a long and not the easiest labour and then still having the strength to deliver our baby girl safely and breastfeed her for 18 months, It was a long recovery for me afterwards!  Aside from that, finding a job I truly love, enjoy and feel rewarded in.

What motivates you to do what you do?

Knowing and seeing what we do really makes a difference, the children I've worked with in and out of water keep me inspired! They are amazing individuals and go through so much in their lives and show us all how they overcome their own challenges. It keeps your head and your feet firmly planted on the ground and it humbles me as we have such privileged lives compared to some of the young people we work with.

What do you owe your mother? 

The strength and passion to help people, to leave my problems aside to help others. To be loving, warm and non judgemental. To work, love and play hard and most of all how to be a good mum. Oh and my OCD, cleaning and laundry habit.

Which women inspire you and why?

All women inspire me, each of us have our own stories and challenges so we should celebrate and inspire each other.  Bethany Hamilton is a particularly inspiring woman in surfing, at the age of 13 she was attacked by a shark whilst surfing at her local beach in Hawaii. One month after the attack, Bethany returned to the water and within 2 years had won her first National title. She continues to surf professional and and now has a child, which is pretty inspiring.

What are you reading?

I don't get much time to read at the moment, having a toddler to chase after keeps me pretty busy, but when I can grab five minutes I love to pick up Breathe magazine which has some lovely articles and features and gives me a bit of escapism. When we go away on holiday, I always make sure to pack plenty of books, as this is when I get most of my reading done. I like to read a mix of genres and am always looking for recommendations!

What gender barriers have you had to hurdle?

The surfing industry has been a predominantly a male dominated one so I have seen lots of gender barriers over the years. Things are changing and there is starting to be a little more equality in the sport, but there is still a little way to go!  It’s great that The Wave Project is a surfing charity that currently employs more women than men!     

How can the world be made a better place for women?

Celebrate each other and try not judge or criticise, there is so much pressure put on us to have the perfect image and lives and I think social media doesn’t always help this.

Describe your perfect day?

We don't get many family days together, just because of the nature of my husbands business, but when we do I like to pack up for a day on the beach or boat, pack a picnic, and head down for a lovely day playing on the beach and in the sea together.  I like to stay as long as possible, enjoying the evening light and sometimes a BBQ if we’ve been organised enough.

We've noticed there really aren’t many (if any) statues of women around Cornwall - who would you see remembered?

I would like to see Daphne Du Marier, Rowena Cade or Barbara Hepworth rememberedwith a statue. I don’t feel they are celebrated or remembered fas much as they could be for their contributions to the county.

Give us a tip?

Not many people know how to escape a rip current and I think living in Cornwall surrounded by the sea, its an essential tip to know!

Rip currents can be difficult to spot, but are sometimes identified by a channel of churning, choppy water on the sea's surface.

If you do find yourself caught in a rip:

- Don’t try to swim against it or you’ll get exhausted.

- If you can stand, wade don’t swim.

- If you can, swim parallel to the shore until free of the rip and then head for shore.

Rebecca Parry has lived in Cornwall since the age of 4, and has always been engaged with surfing and the sea in one way or another, in and out of the water.  Her involvement with the Wave Project started during the initial pilot project in 2010, Rebecca was then employed by the organisation in 2013.

Rebecca originally qualified as a primary teacher and improving young people’s emotional and mental health is something she feels vey passionately about. Combining this with her respect and passion for the sea and surfing has allowed Rebecca to pursue a career within a charity which she feels very honoured to be part of.  Seeing first hand how surfing can benefit and improve young people’s emotional and mental health and wellbeing is very rewarding. This passion for the beach and sea and her qualification in teaching lead her to develop The Wave Project’s Beach School intervention which is now being delivered to schools around Cornwall on a regular basis.

Rebecca married her beach lifeguard-training husband Stuart in 2012 and have since had their daughter, Pip, in 2014. Rebecca herself has suffered with postnatal depression and post traumatic stress after suffering with Hyperemesis Gravidarum during her pregnancy. Rebecca has found getting back in the sea & surfing, after pregnancy very beneficial to her overall mental health & wellbeing recovery. Rebecca enjoys days on the beach, swimming with her little girl, surfing, reading and has an interest in holistic/natural health.


The Wave Project started in 2010 as a voluntary group funded by the National Health Service in Cornwall. The initial aim was to use volunteers to provide one-to-one surfing lessons for young people with mental health issues as a way of getting them outside, doing physical exercise and feeling more confident about themselves.The first project achieved outstanding results.

The results of the pilot showed that going surfing once a week helped clients feel more confident, improved their outlook and gave them a sense of fun. The participants were young people who other services had been unable to reach.  The evaluation showed that the surfing course had led them to feel more accepted, positive and comfortable with their lives. Encouraged by the results, The Wave Project was established as a not-for-profit company. Further funding was obtained, initially from BBC Children In Need and later from the Big Lottery Fund and other funders, and the project began to grow.  Since then, The Wave Project has developed an award-winning intervention that uses the local surfers to help young people reduce anxiety and improve their emotional health. New projects have been set up all over the UK, including in Wales and Scotland.  All of these projects use the same methods employed on the original pilot scheme in Cornwall – getting local surfers to work with clients and teach them to surf. The sessions are delivered by a mix of paid staff and volunteer surf-mentors who work in partnership with established surf schools. Some of our surf mentors started out as clients themselves.  Most importantly, our sessions are free of any pressure to succeed – clients work at their own pace and achieve their own goals. They can work 1:1 with their mentor, or get more involved with the group. Our ethos is to be totally client-led. The role of the surf mentor is to encourage and enable, not to push clients towards an arbitrary goal. We have found that this approach reduces anxiety and allows clients to feel empowered, enabling them to overcome challenges and develop a sense of pride in their achievements.

We take referrals from professionals working with vulnerable children and young people, and also run private lessons for schools, charities and companies. Regular referrers include the NHS, social services, mental health services, GPs, family support services, counsellors and children’s charities.