I was extremely saddened to hear about the tragic passing of fellow course director Andy Phillips this week. I was lucky enough to have trained under him when I did my PADI IDC in Utila 15 years ago. That seems so very long ago now, and it is such a happy reflection. I returned to Utila, more than 10 years later to work on some technical dive training, for my personal fun only, but as ever you could see what an incredible center he had built up from his passion as a dive professional trainer.
Their reputation and the standard of his training is what led me back. I tried to disguise my emails, playing the role of average joe emailing but it didn’t work!
Over the years I continued to talk to him and look towards him for inspiration as he really was one of the behemoths of PADI professional training and a true role model. We talked whenever I saw him at DEMA show including a very memorable evening in the mosh pit at the Rosen Hotel. As ever, the British contingent converged for some good ol “networking” time. The headache that went with that is certainly one for the books. I do also blame Luke for that particular occasion. I remember chatting with him as we were ordering the next round saying to him, how awesome it was that instructors he trained, are now course directors, thinking of both myself and a fellow course director in Roatan. He looked at me for a moment, not quite realizing and then said, “I never thought about that, that is pretty great”. I think it was just a month later that I saw a posting from UDC stating that they have trained course directors which did make me giggle.
I am as ever looking for the “blue water” niche when looking for inspiration and creating new projects and he, I feel, was someone that certainly did that. The amazing legacy that he leaves behind is a testament to that and I cannot imagine the void that both his family, dive family, and thousands of students and friends feel now that he is gone. He was a true inspiration to many and it certainly makes me reflect thinking that a true professional was lost in such a tragic way. My condolences to all his family and to UDC. He passed doing what he loved, and inspired many of us to do so too.
Take a lesson from him and be the best you can.