Industry Leading Drysuit Manufacturer John Womack Passes Away
The diving world this week mourns the loss of John Womack senior, founder of Otter Watersports and a leading name of the UK's dive community, who passed away in the early hours of Friday, 30 November following a long illness.
Womack first learned to dive in 1972, becoming a BSAC First Class Diver and Advanced Instructor with the Bradford Sub Aqua Club, where he remained a member ever since, serving as diving officer and chairman during his membership.
Originally working as a car mechanic, Womack decided to set up Otter Watersports and the Diver's Warehouse in 1986 on the top floor of an old mill, since when it has expanded to become a world-leading drysuit manufacturer. Otter has sponsored a number of expeditions, including dives on the Titanic's sister ship the Britannic, and the wreck of the British Flagship HMS Victoria, which sank near Tripoli in 1893.
The news was announced during the build-up to the European advanced diver conference EUROTEK 2018, held this year in Birmingham, UK. Scuba Industries Trade Association (SITA) representative and EUROTEK co-founder, Rosemary Lunn arranged for two Otter flags to be placed and remain on the main stage for the entire event as a mark of respect. Goodwill cards were signed by the event's team, speakers and exhibitors, and a collection raised which the Womack family will donate to the charities of their choice.
In 2010 John Womack received the EUROTEK 'Outstanding contribution to the diving industry' award. The citation read: 'The unsung hero that has gone the extra mile to support and develop others in the field of advanced and technical diving.'
'John sponsored me when I was trying to break into the diving industry and helped launch my writing career,' said Rosemary Lunn. 'He taught me a lot of about drysuits and about drysuit construction. It was rather uncanny how he would look me up and down and in a second, tell me my vital stats for a suit. But of course, he could - he made amazing suits. He was a great man with a big heart, who paid forward. When I truly needed help, he was there for me.'
John's funeral will be held on 13 December Shipley, Bradford, and the Womack family has extended an open invitation to celebrate his life - for more details please visit Otter Drysuit's Facebook page.