Ex-miner Alf wins Outstanding Contribution award from subsea diving industry


Alf Leadbitter
Alf Leadbitter

The achievements of one of the world’s most experienced commercial diver trainers have been recognised at a prestigious subsea awards ceremony.

Alf Leadbitter, Diver Training Authority at the Underwater Centre, Fort William, was presented with the award for Outstanding Contribution to the Subsea Industry at the annual Subsea UK Awards in Aberdeen.

Alf – who was instrumental in setting up Closed Bell training courses at The Underwater Centre in Fort William, its sister training facility in Tasmania and the National Institute of Professional Diving in Marseille, France – is one of just two people in the world qualified as an ADAS Training and Assessment Manager (ATAM) for the ADAS Part 4 Closed Bell Course, the other being one of his colleagues at The Underwater Centre.

Alf’s career – which spans 50 years not only as a commercial diver, but also as a dive supervisor, instructor and assessor – has seen him travel the globe sharing his expertise with commercial diving students. 

He has worked at the globally recognised diver training establishment, The Underwater Centre on the west coast of Scotland, for more than 30 years, where he has led diver training for the last 10 years.

Steve Ham, General Manager of The Underwater Centre, believes the commercial diving industry has a lot to thank Alf for following his tireless work ensuring training reaches the highest standards in health and safety and in subsea skills.

The Underwater Centre is a purpose built training facility which incorporates an extensive pier complex including four dive stations, classrooms, workshops and decompression chambers. 

Ham said: “Everyone at the centre is absolutely delighted that Alf has received this industry recognition; it is very much deserved.

 “Alf has made a significant contribution to commercial diving across the entire subsea industry and has been at the forefront of commercial diver training for almost 35 years. He has been central to the global development of Closed Bell training, the establishment of diver training and safety processes and has championed the cause of training divers to work underwater, rather than simply teaching them to dive.”

He started his working life as an apprentice fitter in the coalmines, and then went on to become a maintenance fitter in a steelworks.  His career in commercial diving began in 1975, and since becoming involved in commercial diver training, he has worked for 30 plus years to ensure that diver training is safe, while teaching students the requisite skills to begin a subsea career.

He said: “Since leaving school, I have worked in engineering and diving in all capacities from shop floor or seabed to trainer to management. My career started as an apprentice fitter and since then I have worked as an engineer, foreman, diver, diving supervisor and client representative. Since 1988 I have been involved in diver training as an instructor, supervisor and manager.”

Meanwhile, energy services firm Proserv won the 2015 Company of the Year award at Subsea.

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