Bournemouth & Poole College lecturer seeks international surfing glory as one of the world’s best para surfers

Staff and students at Bournemouth & Poole College are preparing to cheer on lecturer Mark Hagger next month (5th to 11th November) as he sets his sights on becoming one of the world’s best para surfers, heading to Huntingdon Beach in California with Team England Para (Adaptive) to compete in the world’s largest adaptive surfing competition, the ISA World Para Surfing Championships (WPSC). 

Mark successfully secured his position in Team England Para (Adaptive) after gaining a first-place title at the English Adaptive Para Surfing Open and second in the Welsh Para Surfing Championship earlier this year.  Para surfing is an adapted form of surfing that allows people with physical disabilities to ride ocean waves on a surfboard.

Since the age of 14, Mark Hagger has been surfing at beaches across the south coast before having to stop due to a Multiple Sclerosis diagnosis. After a 10-year break, he returned to the sport as a para surfer in the prone two category, lying down on his surfboard.

Mark Hagger said: “It’s incredibly exciting to continue to wave the flag for Great Britain, and all those with disabilities. I have had the privilege of meeting so many incredible and inspirational people through the para-surfing community who have taught me that life can change in a heartbeat but staying true to your dreams will beat any obstacle. The College has been very supportive of my surfing achievements and when I compete many colleagues tune in to watch on television.”

Mark Hagger has been a lecturer at Bournemouth & Poole College for more than 18 years, initially in painting and decorating before becoming a coach for electrical installation and maintenance apprentices two years ago. Alongside his teaching at Bournemouth & Poole College, Mark has taken students to Devon on surfing trips to share his passion and encourage extra-curricular activity.

Philip Sayles, Principal of Bournemouth & Poole College, said: “The staff and students at Bournemouth & Poole College have been cheering Mark on all the way, and will continue to eagerly watch him represent England in California. To have a world-class surfer on the team is incredible. Mark is a longstanding member of the College team and has inspired many students to believe in themselves despite obstacles that may be faced. We will be watching and supporting Mark’s progress in the world championships. It is hoped that para surfing is included in the 2028 Paralympic Games in Los Angeles and, if so, I’m sure Mark has his sights firmly set on this!”

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