It’s 5:30a.m. in Koh Tao, Thailand. A few hardcore partiers are on their way back to their guest houses to sleep off their hangover, but for Nick ‘Minty’ Meddings, the day is just beginning. He climbs on his moped and heads for Sairee Beach, the main tourist drag on the island to start work.
For some, such an early start would be torture, but it’s no problem for Minty, as he has arguably one of the best jobs in the world. He’s the head diving instructor at Roctopus Dive, which means his ‘9 to 5’ takes him under the sea to explore the living coral just off the coast of Koh Tao.
This hasn’t always been his reality though. Minty, who’s father was award-winning special effects director Derek Meddings grew up surrounded by the film industry. His father’s work took him all over the world as he worked on movies such as Superman, Batman, Cape Fear and several James Bond movies including Moonraker and The Spy Who Loved Me.
During filming of The Man with the Golden Gun, Mr Meddings worked on an underwater scene which required plenty of know-how in the scuba diving department. This sparked an interest in the subaquatic world which stayed with him for years to come.
Minty’s father always referred to him as ‘the clever one’, and encouraged him to work in ‘anything but the film industry’. He held high hopes of Minty having a ‘real’ profession, so when Mr Meddings passed away suddenly in 1995, Minty decided he would follow a professional career path in his father’s memory.
At the start of the millennium Minty started a career in the insurance industry in Central London, insuring large buildings and corporations, including New York’s Twin Towers. There he stayed for several years, but with his city lifestyle wearing him down and making him unhealthy, he started to consider whether this was the life he wanted for himself.
The breaking point came on July 7th 2005. Minty was on his way to work on the tube as usual when his train suddenly stopped in the middle of a tunnel. After a two hour wait and a chaotic journey to street level, he found himself in the middle of one of the worst terrorist attacks London had ever seen.
His train had been directly behind one which had suffered a bomb attack at Russell Square station. As he made his way to work through Tavistock Square he discovered half a double decker bus, the scene of another earlier explosion.
Shocked by everything he had seen, he asked his boss if he could take the rest of the day off to reflect and recover. When he was told ‘absolutely not’, this was the catalyst he needed to change. He walked out of that job and never returned.
Remembering his father’s love for scuba diving, Minty decided to join a friend of his who was living in Koh Tao, teaching people how to dive. He became certified and spent a couple of years learning everything there is to know about his new passion.
Over the next few years his new career took him all over the world from the Great Barrier Reef to every country on the Mediterranean Sea, working aboard the Super Yachts of the Super Rich, but he never forgot his love for Koh Tao.
It was, of all things, a Roctopus T-Shirt which caught Minty’s attention on a visit back to Koh Tao in 2012. The iconic octopus and bright blue branding jumped out at him, and caused him to want to find out more about the new dive school taking the island by storm.
Roctopus had only been in operation since 2010, but had quickly built a strong reputation as being the best dive school on the island, thanks to its fun atmosphere and no-bullshit safety standards. Minty applied for the position as head dive instructor and the rest, as they say is history.
With over 6,000 dives under his (weight) belt, Minty is one of the most experienced divers on the island, and his work still allows him to challenge himself. No two days under water are ever the same. The locations, the people, the conditions, the sea life – everything is in a constant state of flux, which is exactly the way he likes it.
So what has Minty’s new career taught him about life? Aside from responsibility and organisation, it’s taught him that life is for living.
“It’s not all about the money,” he says. “If you’re stuck in a dead-end job and you want to make a change, then don’t be afraid… Just do it sooner rather than later. Follow your heart and you never know where it might lead you”.
Disclaimer: I was hosted as a guest of Roctopus Dive for my Open Water certification. To read more about my dive experience check out this post.
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