Community Investment Challenge – Surfability: A winner’s story

During the summer, Swansea University’s School of Management launched its Community Investment Challenge competition. Charities and local businesses from the Swansea area were offered the chance to compete for prize money worth a total of £25,000.












‌The Dean of the School, Professor Marc Clement, said: “As part of our new strategy, the School of Management wants to be the centre of the community, opening its doors to those that want to come, a welcoming home for collaboration and learning. 

“We want to provide a space in which relationships will evolve; an environment for like-minded organisations that share our values, where together we can find a way to make a difference in the world locally and globally.” 

Successful applicants were invited to the Bay Campus to present their business plans in the hope of winning the prize money.  There were a total of seven pitches shortlisted and the winning presentation was from the Caswell Bay Community Interest Company Surfability, which makes surfing fun and inclusive for disabled people and help disabled people experience the many benefits of surfing. 

Surfability was awarded the top prize of £15,000, and with this prize money Director Ben Clifford and the Surfability team have built a new facility at Caswell beach providing them with the means to grow the charity; building something of real value to the community.

Surfability officially opened its new premises last weekend and speaking about winning the Community Investment Challenge, Ben Clifford said: “It was great to take part in the School of Management’s Community Investment Challenge and to win was fantastic! We have used the prize money to build the Canthed Centre for Adapted Surfing, which is the first centre for adapted surfing in Wales.

“Our aim at Surfability is to make surfing as accessible as possible to people who have additional needs due to disability, illness or injury. To do this we use specialist equipment and coaching techniques as well as having lots of help from volunteers. People who have limited mobility find it very difficult to put on a wetsuit, so the building has a changing table to make this a lot easier.

“Another example of this is a seated tandem surfboard that we have developed for wheelchair users.  The tandem surfboard itself is 12ft long so to not have to carry it so far means our coaches have more energy to help people surf.

“We are making a hugely positive impact on our community through allowing people to access the beach and ocean who otherwise couldn't. The support from the School of Management means we can do even more.”

“All the finalists were strong and the panel found it a real challenge to select just one winner, and two runners up,” added Professor Marc Clement.  

“The overall winner Ben Clifford, Director of Surfability, presented a very strong business pitch which was completely aligned with the School of Management Health and Wellbeing agenda.  Ben’s passion and dedication to his work was obvious, and it was clear the difference he already makes to children’s lives.

“In the end the School of Management offered each of the finalists a prize.  There were three runners-up, each winning £5,000 – Discovery, Swansea Schools Football Association and Stepping Stones. 

“The three other finalists – Down to Earth, Peace Mala and Learn Through Music – were each awarded £1,000.”