We've decided to get to know some of our local business partners a bit better - and today we speak to Mark Murphy from Oyster Diving...

Photo of Mark Murphy of Oyster Diving Brighton

  • Tell us about yourself and why you started Oyster Diving?

My name is Mark and like many people, I had a typical career which involved long commutes, sitting behind a desk all day and dreaming of the day that it was time to go on holiday. While on a visit to the gym I saw a poster on the wall for a diving holiday to Malta. As I’d done some diving previously and all my friends were now going on holidays with their partners, I decided to take the plunge and give it a go.

On this holiday I met loads of really nice people from different backgrounds and lots of stories to tell. We did some incredible dives through underwater tunnels, deep wrecks and out in the blue. We followed this up by another holiday to the Red Sea a few months later. Seeing the coral and masses of colourful marine life was amazing, and then I had my mind blown with my first shark encounter – well about 7 of them to be precise. Once I placed my leaping heart back inside my chest plate, I watched these magnificent creatures circling and looking for barracudas aka lunch. At that moment I knew that a life in diving was for me. I decided that our dive guide, Del, had the best job in the world – being paid to dive every day, constant sunshine, exercise, no stress and meeting lots of great people. He even went diving on his days off!

Within a month of returning home I had handed in my notice with my employer to chase my dream. My first stop was to complete my Rescue and Divemaster training over a 3 month period in the Virgin Islands. After a chance meeting with another instructor in Barbados, I headed to Thailand where I completed my Instructor training and started my first instructor job teaching people to dive and exploring the underwater world. After 7 months living in Koh Tao I moved to the Red Sea where I was fortunate enough to get a job teaching diving at one of the nicest hotels in Sharm el Sheikh.

After a few months of diving in the Red Sea my old boss asked me to come back to the UK for a 3 month contract to work on a project they had been assigned. It was when I was back in England I decided that the best way to introduce the joy of scuba diving to more people was to set up my own diving company. Since our launch in 2006 we have taught 1000’s people to dive, helped people change their careers and taken others on holiday to amazing destinations all over the world. I feel truly honoured to do a job I love and bringing so much enjoyment to others. Thanks to the whole Oyster team we have changed people’s lives for the better, and many people have embarked on a similar journey to myself – job satisfaction doesn’t get much better than that!

  • What do you love most about what you do?

It has to be the fact that I get paid to go on holiday 2 or 3 times a year. I have taken customers to places such as Mexico, Galapagos, Red Sea and Maldives to name just a few. There are still plenty of places on my bucket list so I can’t wait for the coming years!

  • What’s the best thing about your work?

Nothing gives me more satisfaction then seeing the smile on someone’s face the first time they breathe underwater and experience weightlessness. It is really special if they are apprehensive or nervous to start with and overcome their fears, they’re normally the people who become the most fanatical divers!

  • What’s your average day like, or is it ever average?

Sadly it’s not always glamourous, like a lot of jobs there is hard work and day-to-day tasks. I still answer the phones and e-mails, look at spreadsheets, plan trips, write website pages, pay staff and find ways to develop the business. I still get to teach but not as often as I would like. I would say there is never an average day and most of my friends and family don’t appreciate the effort that goes on behind the scenes.   

  • What is the biggest challenge or opportunity currently for you at the moment?

We have remained closed for the majority of the Coronavirus pandemic. Like many small business we have taken out government loans to keep us going, and that will soon start to need to be repaid. There is still no definite date when we can all start going on holiday again and with around 80% of our income dependent on the holiday market, the coming months are going to remain tough.

I am very optimistic though, I think one thing that the pandemic has taught us is that life is for living. I think many people will take up more adventurous activities and spending less hours getting on a sun lounger just to burn to a crisp.

  • What do you love most about Brighton?

I love the sea, so living close to it and having a shop and office right by it is wonderful. Off the Brighton coastline is a wealth of things to see. There are wrecks including some from both world wars, reefs and an unbelievable amount of sea life. Until you experience a UK dive people never quite believe how much you can see. With only an hour or so by train from London, it gives millions of people the opportunity to see crabs, large schools of fish, rays, starfish and other wonderful creatures.

  • If anything at all, what would you like to be doing as an alternative career?

I have learned a lot since starting the business with just £10,000 of my own savings. I have had many successes and fallen into a lot of the pitfalls. I would love to be able to help other small businesses grow and avoid some of the mistakes we made. My semi-retirement plan though is to own a sail boat in the Virgin Islands and offer sailing and diving holidays – as my wife suffers from sea sickness this doesn’t look very likely!

Photo of Mark Murphy of Oyster Diving Brighton

Related

Oyster Diving
Water Based Activities
Sharks

Oyster Diving is a PADI 5-star Instructor Development Centre which means they offer the highest training standards from complete novices through to professional and instructor courses.

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