We thought you may like to learn about the newest addition to the projects that we currently support here at Surf South West. Welcome Sarah Jellard (or Jelly as we love to call her) and the Wave Rangers Project North Devon.

The Wave Rangers Project was created only a year and a half ago as part of the main Wave Project charity. Jelly now heads up Wave Rangers North Devon based here in our beautiful corner of the Shire. She is also at the forefront of Wave Rangers South Devon, launching later in the year.

A Little Bit About ‘Jelly’

Sarah is a qualified teacher with a Masters in Environmental Mental Health and Wellbeing from the Medical School of Truro, part of University of Exeter. She left her teaching job in Jan 2020 to head up The Wave Rangers. Having always been passionate about mental health and the environment, the Wave Rangers was a fantastic fit.

The project was launched covering areas as far afield as Hartland in the South, Coombe Martin in the North and all that lies between. Keen to use her educational background, Sarah ensures that all the projects include a strong element of key learning skills, educational information and developmental strategy.

sarah and tango the dog

What’s the idea behind the Wave Rangers Project?

The Wave Rangers engage young people between the ages of 10-20 years, to volunteer in projects that support the local environment and help young people to feel part of their community. These are sometimes referred to as social action projects.  As well as providing valuable environmental services to local communities and charities, the projects strengthen the youngster’s mental and physical health. It also builds their confidence, knowledge and feelings of connection to the natural world, which is very therapeutic.  The experiences also enable the Wave Rangers to understand the importance of being part of their community as well as heightening their sense of self.

How the Wave Rangers Project Works

Children and young adults are referred to Sarah through a number of channels. This could be via GP surgeries, social workers, various NHS departments, young offenders groups or charities. Sarah then meets with each Wave Ranger to find out what their particular environmental interests are. For example, are they interested in beaches, animals, trees, rivers, land work, litter picking, growing plants or vegetables, forestry etc… She will then group them into teams and assign projects that fall within their particular range of interests.

tango the dog

The Wave Rangers Project Journal

Each Wave Ranger’s social action project entails 25 hours of volunteering which they document in their Wave Ranger Journals. These journals are from The John Muir Trust, who are one of the project’s key partners.

At the end of the project, the Wave Rangers will have created a beautiful journal as a memory of all they have achieved in that time.


Sarah personally creates all the projects integrating her lesson planning and teaching skills.  She adores all the activities and is on hand at every location. Activities include:- beach cleaning, coastal path clearing; road clearing; seal surveys, willow clearing, ponding dipping; sand art; cliff cleaning; micro plastic projects; butterfly counts; waste water measurements; foot path surveys; marine life surveys; making bug hotels; wilding flowers for bees and butterflies and willow clearing.

Everything has a purpose and the data collected by the Wave Rangers provides valuable data to may of our partners. This also increases each Wave Ranger’s sense of worth and purpose.

The groups meet on a fortnightly basis but the Wave Rangers are encouraged to do some kind of activity or journalling in between meet-ups.

Wave Ranger Partners

The Wave Rangers are grateful to work with wonderful partners that including: –

It’s hoped that after the project ends, many of the Wave Rangers will continue their volunteering with the partners directly, or eventually, find employment through them.

The Wave Ranger Allotment

In the last twelve months, 350 young people have successfully completed their Wave Ranger projects. Over the next 6 months Sarah will be hoping to increase these numbers and is pushing for further NHS, GP and social service referrals focussing on15 – 20 year olds. 

“I’ve a real passion to help this age group as the results have been extraordinary” Sarah comments. “We even have Wave Rangers from this age group that come back to volunteer at our sessions. It’s a real right of passage.”

It’s also wonderful that many of the Wave Rangers bring family members to the meet ups who themselves, help out  and get involved with the activities. Sarah explains, “We are a huge Wave Rangers family here, it’s a wonderful feeling to be part of something like this.”

Special Team Member

No blog about the Wave Rangers would be complete without the mention of a Tango the black Labrador. Tango is Sarah’s Therapy Dog and is present at all the activities. Even at the paddle boarding adventures, he proudly sits on a board and take to the waves and rivers. 

Sarah is aware of the positive affect that Tango has when working with the children.  She explains, ”One thirteen year old child with autism had a real phobia of dogs, water and wetsuits. The first weekend he was with us, we went on a beach clean just to get him used to the environment. Two sessions later, we dropped off a sweatsuit to let him get used to it.  Then he came for a paddle board session with us and he stood up. The boy was so proud of himself, even though he was shaking like a leaf. He just wanted to do it again and again. He was incredible and was so excited that at the end he jumped off the board to swim over to Tango and give him a cuddle!”

Sarah continues, “That child overcame three of his major fears – wetsuits, paddle boards and dogs in three sessions. I’m sure Tango gave him a extra bit of courage. The boy is now gone from strength to strength and is now regularly surfing with The Wave Project at Surf South West. It’s an incredible story and we have many, many others to tell.”

Surf South West And The Wave Rangers

So where do we fit in?

As part of the project, all Wave Rangers get an opportunity to surf, either as a welcome to the first meet-up or as a celebratory last reward session.

Sarah says, “All our Wave Rangers come to Surf South West for their surf sessions and we absolutely love it here. John and Will are fantastic. It’s a great surf hub, with a real family vibe, just like The Wave Rangers. We always feel welcome.  Our Wave Rangers are not used to surfing so at first, many of them feel overwhelmed by the sea. The instructors are amazing and always make them laugh and ride through their fear. Andy and Jack are our regular instructors and can always be heard whooping and laughing with the youngsters. They really makes the sessions fun.”

Sarah continues, “I truly feel it’s the best surf school in the country, even the world. The team are constantly helping the Wave Rangers during the surf sessions, understanding their many different needs and core anxieties. They always know how best to support them in overcoming their challenges. It’s simply wonderful to be a part of this experiences and I’m so grateful to all the Surf South West team for all their support.”