Andy Rice - Equipment Officer
PADI Open Water Instructor #454167
Andy is a passionate scuba diver who particularly enjoys cave diving and grubbing around underground! He dives both open and closed circuit, prefering to dive 'sidemount' and has a KISS sidemount rebreather. He has also recently qualified as a PADI Open Water Instructor.
Andy is also a BSAC and SAA Dive Leader. And he holds multiple certifications from other agencies, including SDI/TDI & IANTD.
In addition to his being a rebreather diver he is also a qualified Solo Diver and DPV cave diver.
In his day job, Andy is a chef, allegedly, although the only things we've ever seen him cook have come out of a microwave!
Andy is a fully initiated member of the MARU Diving Club. And his given MARU name is 'Fiddler Maru'. He can't help himself, he loves pulling things apart and he gained his name after a diving trip to Northern Ireland saw him fiddling with a first stage that then flew apart in his hands and had his fellow divers rolling around on the floor with laughter!
On a serious note: Don't do this at home!
Andy essentially likes diving in wellies and doesn't worry about buoyancy control. The viz is usually better in front of him than behind, not that it matters, because without his glasses he can't see anything in front of him anyway!
Ask him about the pegs...
For Andy, it all started back in 2010 while travelling around South East Asia and Australia. It was just one of those things on his 'Bucket List'. Go scuba diving before you kick the bucket... tick that box, scratch that itch, do that thing. Little did he realise just how much that first scuba dive would transform his life.
It was on the island of Pulau Perhentian, in Malaysia, where he took his first step into the warm blue tropical waters on a PADI open water diver course. His reaction was simply one of wonder, a seminal moment in his life, a 'wow' moment! Simply amazing, the colours and the sheer beauty of an unspoilt reef, teeming with life!
His travels took him onward, to Australia, where more scuba diving was the order of the day. Gradually completing numerous adventure dives, and fun dives, to count towards his PADI Advanced Open Water Diver certification which he completed whilst on a 3-day liveaboard, on a catamaran, in the Whitsundays; from that moment he was completely hooked and officially became a complete 'scuba junkie'.
Andy then went back to Thailand in 2013, to complete his SSI (Scuba Schools International) Divemaster. He then returned once again to Australia and engaged in a lot of diving on both reefs and wrecks, whilst working on luxury dive boats, guiding dives. He loved every minute of it and particularly enjoyed sharing other people's diving experiences with them. His addiction only got worse!
Given that Thailand was 'sort of' on the way home for him, he decided to return to the Island of Koh Tao (famous for its dive schools) and completed a 2 month tech internship with TDI (Technical Diving International). He focused his training primarily on sidemount diving, advanced wreck diving and penetration along with decompression diving, as well as learning how to blend gasses and use compressors.
Returning to the UK, and knowing what excellent diving it had to offer, Andy joined Cheltenham Sub-Aqua Club (2014) and commenced his PADI Divemaster with James Neal. in orderf to sharpen his skills, with a mind to becoming an instructor himself. Along the way James introduced Andy to mine diving and enrolled him on an IANTD Limited Mine Diving course with fellow Divemaster, Neal Breeden. This course took them up to Holme Bank Chert Mine, in Bakewell, for an underground diving experience with In France that would mark the start of a new obsession for Andy.
Throughout this journey, Andy's interests have diverted in all directions, he found himself doing courses with multiple agencies and with both IANTD and TDI to enable him to safely dive flooded mines and caves.
Andy was also introduced to deep diving by James and completed his mixed-gas hypoxic trimix training with him in 2017. This course, taught by Dale Spree, saw them venturing to depths in excess of 75 metres on a mixture of hypoxic trimix and engaged in the required dive planning needed to safely carry out dives to such depths.
The darkness always seemed to beckon Andy back, being a potholer long before he become a diver, the underground environment resonated for him and his obsession with mine and cave diving started to take hold, which was initially at odds with his attitude towards cave and mine diving, which had always been 'cave diving was one of the most stupid things you could do!' Some might say it is, it's certainly one of the most dangerous types of diving that you can engage in.
Andy became a member of CDG (Cave Diving Group) and went on to complete his 'Sump Diver' course with them. He has now also done his 'Intro to Cave' and 'Full Cave' diving courses as well as a DPV course. He also managed to accidentally buy himself a KISS Sidewinder rebreather and then had to engage in specialist PSAI (The Professional Scuba Association International) training in order to use it, which saw him travel to Poland for the course. Nowadays, you'll likely as not find Andy underground in places like Wookey Hole, Ogof Ffynnon Ddu and Swildon's Hole to name a few.
Andy has become very fond of his Kiss Sidewinder rebreather and they have become close. So much so, that he has named it 'Suzie' and it even has its own facebook page, Suzie Sidewinder! Many of his peers think there's something romantic going on and Andy will often find himself being teased about getting himself a proper girlfriend, one that will answer back! But he seems happy with Suzie and they are starting to share some very cool adventures together, maybe Andy identifies as a rebreather!
“I LIKE TAKING THINGS APART AND PUTTING THEM BACK TOGETHER. TINKERING. I'D BE A PROFESSIONAL TINKERER. TINKERBELL. I THINK THAT'S WHAT THEY'RE CALLED.”
— Chris Carmack