118: Steve England/Anybody Can

The classic Blue Juice line up – Sean Pertwee, Gabe Davies, Rob Small and Steve England. Photo: Neale Haynes

“If you’ve got media and a voice, then you have a responsibility to push positive messages, support people in what they want to do and make positive change.”

I’m a big fan of ‘lifer’ stories on the podcast. These are the guests who aren’t big name athletes or personalities, but who have quietly had the same amount of influence. Think of guests like Demi Taylor, Chris Cote or Phil Young. They’re people who have dedicated their lives to the activities they love, and in the process have ended up helping to create the culture we all benefit from.

This week’s guest Steve England, long-term publisher of Carve magazine and founding member of Surfers Against Sewage, is another example. He’d never admit it himself, but it’s impossible to do justice to the absolutely integral role Steve has played in the UK surf industry for well over three decades now.

Steve on the job. Photo: Haynesy

Think of any significant development in British surfing and Steve England has been at the heart of it. No wonder no less an authority than Gabe Davis describes him as ‘the absolute heart and soul of UK surfing’.

What’s especially brilliant about this is that it is all so clearly driven by Steve’s absolute passion for surfing and belief in its power to transform lives, something he expresses with great eloquence during our conversation.

Steve and Brad on the Gold Coast during the Surfrider years.

Then there’s the final layer to all this, which is the arc of Steve’s career itself. As he himself says: if he can do it, anybody can.

Steve was somebody I’d wanted to get on the show for months and I’ll be honest it took me a while to convince him. I’m so glad that I did, as you’ll hear.

Listen to the episode here:

Connect with Steve

Show Notes

  • Interview nerves.
  • “I’ve done some quite cool stuff but I’m not a particularly amazing person”.
  • Spell check.
  • “If I can do it, pretty much anyone can do it”.
  • Recent passing of his mum.
  • Ceilings.
  • Accounting and Business Studies.
  • First working with Surfers Against Sewage.
  • Days of grants.
  • The Promised Land.
  • Unfashionable eco-warriors.
  • Greenham Common.
  • McLibel case.
  • “Prince Charles was spot on”.
  • ASR glory days.
  • “That’s how it started”.
  • Stints in Abingdon.
  • Surf books.
  • ‘Little Turtle Turns the Tide’.
  • How the empire started.
  • Issue 4, 1994.
  • Assistant Editor and Advertising Manager.
  • British Big Wave elite.
  • British surf heroes.
  • The national tight-knit community.
  • “Any day and in any conditions, anyone can feel like a champion”.
  • The first wave.
  • Head down, arse out.
  • Surfer’s ear.
  • Inner-Kelly Slater.
  • Small team, big output.
  • When the internet arrived.
  • Then social media came along.
  • SurfGirl’s online community.
  • Guidebooks to cookbooks.
  • Where Surfers Against Sewage began.
  • Gas Mask.
  • Fight For The Bight
  • Campaigning tactics.
  • Shareholders.
  • Nurture from the bottom up.
  • Surfing Reserve.
  • Quiet kid.
  • “Surfing taught me not to be afraid”.
  • Healthy cynicism.
  • “Surfing isn’t dead”.
  • Paralympic surfers.
  • “No boundaries to riding waves”.
  • Lilo surfing.
  • Surfing is not a sport.
  • Surfing and the Olympics.
  • Social powers of surfing.
  • Racism in football.
  • “There’s always a bigger wave”.

People Mentioned

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