71-year-old celebrates half a century of diving in the North Sea

Phil Jones is giving up deep sea diving after 50 years

Phil Jones is giving up deep sea diving after 50 years - Credit: Archant

When Phil Jones joined Anglian Divers in the mid-1960s, the first place he dove headfirst into was the air force scrap yard.

Phil Jones is giving up deep sea diving after 50 years

Phil Jones is giving up deep sea diving after 50 years - Credit: Archant

In those days, the wrecks of Spitfires and Dorniers were the only place to get oxygen tanks.

Technologies may have improved dramatically since, but in East Anglia one thing has always remained the same.

'I've dived every summer for 50 years in the North Sea, so that's something that's never been achieved in Norfolk by anybody else that we know of,' Phil said.

Now 71, it's been a long time since he was first introduced to the local waters.

Born and raised in Great Yarmouth, for much of his childhood Mr Jones lived above the Barclays bank in the quay where his father was a bank messenger.

For the past 53 years he's been cutting hair, including the past 36 at his current address on Deneside.

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'Being a local boy born in Yarmouth, you always swam off the sea when you were lads because the sea was a fascinating thing to go into,' he said.

'I bought a cheap mask off Regent Road, went paddling about and then the club advertised that they would do a swimming session - I went along and never stopped.'

While the North Sea has been his summer home for the past five decades, it's far from the limit of Phil's diving adventures.

From the Middle East to the Canary Islands and the Caribbean, there have been plenty of highlights in his diving career, but there are two that stand head and shoulders above the rest.

'No doubt to me the Barrier Reef is the pinnacle of my career. It's like my Everest if you know what I mean,' he said.

'One of the biggest thrills of my amateur diving career was I met the founder of the sport, Jacques Cousteau.'

It's been some five decades since Cousteau first inspired a generation to dive and it doesn't look like Phil will be giving up his passion anytime soon.