This summer, the National Trust has linked up with the surf-wear brand Saltrock to bring out the Neptune range – a stylish selection of t-shirts and hoodies for anyone old enough to handle a surfboard. A percentage of every item sold goes to support the National Trust’s Neptune Coastline Campaign, helping us to protect the nation’s coasts.
Saltrock’s new Surf Ambassador, Ben Howey, has spent a lot of time on the coast sporting the Neptune range, so we decided to get in touch and ask him what all the fuss was about. Ben was just waiting for the tide to turn and deliver some good surf when we called – but he still had time for a quick chat.
First things first: we asked Ben how he got into surfing.
“Originally I started off shortboarding, because I couldn’t afford a longboard; as I got a bit older I saved all my money and got a longboard like my brothers, and it sort of went from there.”
When we asked how old he was when he first got on a board, he laughed “probably six or seven. I grew up on the south coast near South Milton Sands and Thurlestone Rock, so my parents took me there all the time when I was young. But since I moved up to Barnstaple, Croyde and Saunton are my favourite spots. You get can catch some really good waves here – when it gets big enough.”
Now describing himself as South Devon’s Creamiest Longboarder, Ben has recently joined Saltrock to promote their clothing at surfing events in the UK and internationally. We asked him what strikes him most about the new Neptune range.
“It’s all really good quality, well-made, and really nice too.”
“There are some really cool prints, all inspired by the coast,” he added, “but my favourite is the t-shirt with two crossed tridents on it. I think it’s a really good cause and hopefully it should raise awareness about the Neptune Coastline Campaign.”
Ben has taken part in a number of beach cleans, but his support for the Neptune Coastline Campaign and Surfers Against Sewage (SAS) isn’t just about keeping beaches clean for surfers. “Keeping beaches clean is massively important for everyone. No one wants to go down to a beach full of rubbish.”
Ben has travelled the world to compete at some top surfing events. But even after basking on the beaches of Hawaii and Indonesia, he still finds that his heart is on the British coast.
“You go travelling all round the world doing competitions, but the National Trust’s beaches and cliff walks are some of the most beautiful places, and it’s just down the road.”
“It’s a bit of a cliché,” he said, “but we should make the most of what we’ve got out there – and most importantly look after it as well.”