CELEBRATING 50 YEARS - 1969 to 2019

AP Diving (originally AP Valves) turns 50 in 2019


To help celebrate our half century we invite all divers to join us in a year-long quest to... 


and find the 50 x OLDEST BUDDY BCDs




 Get involved, do something amazing & win some great AP prizes this year 


See below for details of the AP 50th Challenges



The 50 DIVE ADVENTURES Challenge

Log your best dive adventure of 2019

Planning some amazing, unusual and extraordinary dive adventures this year?

Send us a Dive Report including photos and a brief write-up (or long... up to you) detailing the back-story, the who, what, why, when, where and how of it... 

The best 50 DIVE ADVENTURES will be chosen by a panel of AP staff from all those submitted. They will then select the top three best DIVE ADVENTURES and then determine the overall Winner and 2 x Runners Up. The panel will convene as soon as possible in early December 2019.*

  • 1st PRIZE: a brand new, full spec AP COMMANDO BCD (or other model of choice) and an AP SMBCi/35P - the original self-sealing Surface Marker Buoy with Easifil inflator. Plus AP goodies for the team: each diver taking part will be offered their choice of an AP Bamboo Thermos Flask, an AP Beanie or an AP Stylus Pen. Each diver in the team will also receive an AP 50th Anniversary Coffee Mug.
  • 2 x Runners-up PRIZES: an AP SMBCi/35P - Surface Marker Buoy with Easifil inflator; an AP Pocket Reel; and an LB25C - self-sealing 25kg Lift Bag. Plus AP goodies for the team: each diver taking part will be offered their choice of an AP Bamboo Thermos Flask, an AP Beanie or an AP Stylus Pen. Each diver in the team will also receive an AP 50th Anniversary Coffee Mug.
  • The next 47 best DIVE ADVENTURES  (chosen by the same panel of AP staff) will win a prize of an AP SMBC - the original self-sealing Surface Marker Buoy and an AP 50th Anniversary Coffee Mug.
  • Every DIVE ADVENTURE submitted will be posted online on the AP website and all over our social media channels gaining publicity, kudos and out-reach for your club or group.


* The judging criteria will include some or all of the following: the uniqueness and newsworthiness of the adventure; the effort put into and the quality of both the written report and the photographs; the effort put in by the divers and the team-effort (where applicable); entertainment value; inspirational value...






If you are also posting your report on your own social media, it would great if you could use #AP50THC in the text? That way we get to collect all the good stuff in one place. Cheers. 

The closing date for DIVE ADVENTURE dive report submissions is 30th November 2019

The panel will make their decisions, conduct the random prize draw and announce the results on or shortly after Monday 16th December. Prizes will be shipped asap after that, if possible before the end of 2019. 


50 DIVE ADVENTURES Competition Terms & Conditions

  • The closing date for entries to all 3 Challenges is midnight 30th November 2019.
  • Shortly after this date the AP judging panel will convene to choose the best 3 Dive Adventures.
  • The AP panel will then determine the overall Winner and 2 x Runners Up.
  • All 50 prize winners will be notified and prizes distributed as soon as possible after the closing date.
  • Dive Adventure Contestants may also enter the other 2 Challenges with a maximum of one entry per contestant per Challenge.
  • Employees of AP Diving are not eligible to enter the Dive Adventure or Oldest BUDDY Challenges (but may enter the AP Staff Challenge or get involved with or organise as many Beach Cleans as they like).  [Note: Dive Adventures #1 is offered as a sample only]
  • AP Diving reserves the right to post the content of any submissions online on their web and social media channels. 
  • All prizes will be provided by AP Diving.
  • The decisions of the AP judging panel are final.




2nd January 2019

Lanzarote Dreaming

  • Jeff parker
  • Sarah Parker
  • Jo Parker

Dive Report

Go Here



7-9th June 2019



Kernow Divefest

  • Jeff Parker 
  • Mike Etheredge
  • Neil Bolton
  • Tom Wood

Dive Report

Go Here




18-26th June 2019



Red Sea Silence
Orca, Safaga

  • Martin Parker 
  • Mike Etheredge
  • Mike Fowler
  • Tino de Rijk
  • Rita Oosterbaan

Dive Report

Go Here




16-23rd June 2019



Scapa Flow Trip 

  • Nic Carapanagiotu
  • Ron Evans
  • Andy Fleming
  • John Patten
  • Kirsty McWilliam
  • Kieth Shotton

Southport BSAC, Scapa 100 Anniversary Dive Trip

Dive Report

Go Here




July 2019



Dive Safety Day
(Joint Services)

  • Dieter Maezele
  • 249 Others

Voldelée, Belgium

Dive Report

Go Here


The 50 BEACH CLEANS Challenge

If each club does one beach each - the 50 target will be easy




This challenge goes out to you. What we are aiming for is 50+ beaches in total by the end of the year. Sign up your club and commit to cleaning one local beach and we should do it easily.

Obviously, the solutions to the problems caused by "8 million tonnes of plastic being dumped in our seas every year" (source: BBC - Drowning In Plastic 2018) will not be solved by Beach Cleans alone. It  requires long-term collective action from governments and organisations much higher up the food chain than us. However, we believe in leading by example and making a start locally. 

I'm pretty sure many divers will agree with this and are also uniquely placed to help out, having all the necessary gear, knowledge and organisational skills available. I'm thinking in particular of access to RHIBs or paddle-boards, together with unique sea-craft skills and local knowledge which would allow you to reach the beaches that the general public just can't get to.  

If you do organise your own Beach Clean then obviously appropriate planning should be made. There are excellent guides available from the Surfers Against Sewage and Marine Conservation Society websites. Planning should involve:

  1. Permission - contact the beach owner (usually the local council) and find out the best way to get the rubbish collected, disposed of or where to leave it for council collection etc
  2. Risk Assessments - templates and checklists are available from the links above. 
  3. Health & Safety - equipment, tide times, marshalling, sign-in sheets, first-aid etc. Safety guidelines are available from the links above.
  4. Preferably register your plan with someone like the MCS who also like to collect useful data on what you find.

If you choose to clean an isolated beach with only sea-access then preferably you should also consult with local wildlife groups, the Coastguard and others well in advance of any such efforts to ensure both the safety of the divers and to make sure you don't disturb or endanger any wild-life that may live there.

Or if you want to keep it simple, you could just join in with one of the regular organised events throughout the year by the likes of Surfers Against Sewage, the Marine Conservation Society or the National Trust

Helping to clean up the environment is obviously a reward in itself and it is another great out-reach opportunity to publicise and grow your club. In addition, each Dive Club that submits a brief report and photos (50-200+ words or just photo captions) of their club's Beach Clean event will receive a prize from AP of an AP Training Surface Marker Buoy. We will also publicise each Beach Clean report on our web and social media channels throughout the year.

Although it's not officially a competition, the AP judging panel will also choose what they consider to be the best effort of the 50 x Beach Cleans and extra AP goodies will be sent out in December. 





If you are also posting your report on your own social media, it would great if you could use #AP50THC in the text? That way we get to collect all the good stuff in one place. Cheers.  

The closing date for BEACH CLEAN report submissions is 30th November 2019


50 Beach Cleans Challenge Terms & Conditions

  • The closing date for entries to all 3 Challenges is midnight 30thNovember.
  • Shortly after this date the AP judging panel will convene to choose the best Beach Clean effort.
  • All 50 prize winners will be notified and prizes distributed as soon as possible after the closing date.
  • Contestants may also enter the other 2 Challenges with a maximum of one entry per contestant per Challenge.
  • The responsibility for organisation of a Beach Clean including all aspects of participant health & safety, access permissions, rubbish disposal etc - lies with the club or individuals organising the event.
  • AP Diving reserves the right to post the content of any submissions online on their web and social media channels.
  • Prizes are provided by AP Diving.
  • The decisions of the AP judging panel are final.






Jan-Sept 2019


Assorted Cornish Beaches

Neil Bolton (Inspiration Tech) & Family

Beach Clean Report

Go Here

The 50 OLDEST BUDDY BCDs Challenge

Help us find the oldest (still-working) BUDDY BCD


We are on the hunt for the oldest BUDDY BCD still going strong and maybe still in use in the water (or at least capable of being). Divers are forever approaching us at Dive Shows saying "I've got a 25+ year old BUDDY Commando..." which is great! For them... they have definitely got their money's-worth... Not so much for us. "Time for a new one" we smile, hopefully.

So we got to thinking... we should really try to find the oldest BUDDY out there. If you take a look at our history pages you will see that we made our first jacket back in 1974. It would be great to find one of these single bladder "horse-collar" BCDs still diving?

Ok, so the competition is simple: If you think you have the oldest, send us photographs (of it now and preferably, if possible,  also back then, when you bought it) together with the serial number if you can find it (in one of the pockets) or any other evidence of date - receipt, warranty registration etc etc. If you want to give us any other information about your dive career at the same time that would be great. We will post the top 50 "oldest BCD" stories on this site and on our social media pages.

If we have several BCDs which are obviously among the oldest but can't decisively be dated, then we will enter them (however many there are in this "oldest" group) into a finalists' Prize Draw lottery to make it fair.

  • 1st PRIZE: a brand new, full spec AP COMMANDO BCD (or other model of choice) and in time-honoured AP tradition - a complimentary coffee mug! 
  • All of the runners up from the prize draw lottery will be sent the full set of AP goodies: an AP Bamboo Thermos Flask, an AP Beanie, an AP Pen and an AP 50th Anniversary Coffee Mug.
  • All of the remaining 50 oldest BUDDY BCDs  will all be sent 50th Anniversary Coffee Mugs.

The bar is already set pretty high...

...as we have found a pretty old one which we displayed at the last NEC Dive Show.  Sent in by Allan and Bunny Colclough who used to run the Royal Dive School in Jordan. On retirement they were presented with the original 1986 BUDDY SEAKING jacket that belonged to King Hussein of Jordan. This 33 year old jacket is still in great condition and sets the target to beat. If you think you can beat that... please get in touch.




[Not yet in date order]





BUDDY Arctic

Date: 1985

Owner: Don Beech

That ABLJ was bought about 1985.  I wish I had photos of my first from 1976 when I started. I still Dive AP with a Buddy Commando.







BUDDY Pacific | BUDDY Commando Slimline

Date: 1987 and June 1992

Owner: Lee Cobley

I started diving in 1987 with this Buddy horse collar style, then 1992 bought this Buddy Slimline which is fitted with the Auto Air. It's dived all around UK but these days warmer waters. This time last year for two months I used it daily working on a damaged coral reef in Bali. I've been ask to sell it by dive instructors abroad because it's very visible underwater and stands out from all the black ones you can buy these days.






Here's a photo of Exeter BSAC kit room.
Whilst none of these BCD's are 50 years old, they've certainly had a hard life.


BUDDY Pacific

Date: June 1988

Owner: Andy Laird

[Above] is a photo of my Buddy Pacific. 

I know how old my Buddy Pacific is, for I've found the original 'crack' bottle, which is dated March 1988. The BCD serial number is P8806123. I bought the BCD second hand about 15 years ago, but put a more up to date bottle on it, because the original one looked 'quite tired'.

Many thanks to all at APValves, and with kind regards,











BUDDY Pacific

Date: 1985

Owner: Alastair McCulloch

Here's one in absolutely mint condition with the original cylinder.

"I have an old Buddy Pacific ABLJ that I still use when I want to travel light.  I also have 3 Buddy Commandos of varying ages with the newest model being used several times a month, the prior model accompanies me when I travel abroad and the oldest is kept for pool training and lending out to trainees of buddies when their kit is away for servicing. 

The attached picture was from last summer when my wife and I were away camping across the Western Isles and Ardmair, Ullapool (pictured) -  I did not have much room for dive kit so my Buddy Pacific joined pony bottles and wetsuit kit to allow some shallow diving.  It also gets used when diving from my dive Kayak and for snorkelling. 

Keep up the good work guys, we appreciate your tough reliable equipment and great customer service. 

Thanks, Alastair 

Alastair McCulloch | Branch Diving Officer | Stirling Sub-Aqua Club | 






BUDDY Pacific

Date: Late 70's

Owner: Peter Glanvill

"I started diving in 1965 and I have dived every year since. I took up cave diving in the 1980's for a while but my wife got spooked by me doing it so I did less after 1990 (but didn't stop). Still diving. I cannot remember when I bought my Buddy Pacific ABLJ. Must have been in the late 70's. I know I bought it from Sandford and Down in Plymouth (the original Sandford and Down although they had moved to the Hoe area by then). My father was a regular customer of theirs. I can remember when asking for a life jacket (remember when we wore them with CO2 cylinders?) and they produced a Buddy Pacific ABLJ which apparently was very new at the time. They gave me a good deal I remember (I was an impecunious junior doctor then) and I had it for years until I acquired a second hand Buddy Commando that have refurbished at least once and that I still use on diving holdays. My daughters refused to use the ABLJ's when they started training having done it in the 90's when BCD's came in so the Pacific is sitting unused in my garage at present although fully functional. I have seen a Buddy Commando, orange in colour, so faded it was nearly white worn by dive leader in Madeira some years ago. You certainly make them to last and provide great after service. The Pacific has been on exploratory trips into Blue Holes in Bahamas and in the depths of the lake in Pridhamsleigh Cavern in Devon. It has never been the same colour since Prid as the cave is notoriously muddy. The picture is of my friend Brian Johnson preparing to dive in the lake  wearing  my ABLJ."

Peter Glanvill









BUDDY Commando

Date: Early 1990s

Owner: Neil Holmwood

"Bought early nineties at Cornish diving, used extensively and reliably till naughties when I went to Dubai as a commercial diver. Recently used again after attic storage and it was great, apart from the cummerbund buckle which had become brittle and snapped. Thank you for the replacement. "

Neil Holmwood






BUDDY Arctic

Date: 1980s

Owner: Graham Rintoul






BUDDY Commando

Date: 1989/90

Owner: David Niven

"My buddy commando with cracker bottle.... still going strong !!! Worn [here] by Richie Harrison. The jacket was purchased 1989/1990 initially owned by Bill Smith (rebreather diver from bluebird Project) I have used it ever since, bottle still functions perfectly. It has lived its life diving all the wrecks off the north east coast and is still my go to jacket if conditions are not great. Absolute bomb proof equipment and a testament to your attention to detail. I will never get rid of this jacket. Thank you for the 50th coffee mug too ! "

David Niven






BUDDY Arctic

Date: 1986

Owner: Colin Gregory


" This is me with my Buddy Arctic at St Abbs back in the day! I think it was purchased around 1986.

This photo was taken on a weekend trip to St Abbs with Chaumont BSAC in the summer of 1987."

David Niven






BUDDY Commando

Date: Registered in April 1990

Owner: Andrew Moss

"I remember buying it with my dad at the Crystal Palace dive show from Tony Marshall of Collins and Chambers, I would guess in 1988. Can’t find the number in the pockets, seems to have worn off! Think I completed a registration form at the time, remember to a 16 year old it was hugely exciting. Still use for training purposes, I took the plunge and bought a new commando a couple of years back, love that too, prize possessions!"


Andrew Moss








BUDDY Arctic  |  BUDDY Arctic

Date: circa 1986-87

Sent in by: Gregg Sawbridge 

"We thought you might like to see a photo taken yesterday, 1st March 2019, of myself Gregg Sawbridge [on the right] and friend Ian Culmer. This is the ONLY dive kit we’ve used for the past 25+ years.

The photo is taken on one of our weekly trips to Stoney Cove."







BUDDY Commando

Date: 1987, Week 34

Owner: Martyn Bowie

 "[Here is] my Buddy Commando which when first purchased in the early 80’s was a loud orange!!!  However, it still does the job both in open water and the pool, I first started diving in 1979 with the forces and this was my first ever purchase of a BCD and it’s still going strong, although like me has seen some adventures."








BUDDY Commando

Date: circa late 1980s

Owner: Chris Higgins

"My trusty 'ole yella' is still doing me proud. second hand 15 years ago, it's seen me through some cracking adventures. It's a little like Triggers Broom, in that AP have replaced everything but the faded yellow canvas!"








Various BUDDYs

Date: Circa 1980s

Shared by: Alex Warzynski

[via FaceBook] "Still have a few and they get used occasionally... Here they are when they were new and we all had hair...  "





Photo from Bonaire in September



Date: Circa mid-1980s

Shared by: Kenneth Obbard

[via FaceBook] "I've got a Sea King still going strong, mainly used for holiday diving and single tank training set up.

It's had at least 3 owners and seen plenty of use. Shame you don't make orange kit anymore."






BUDDY Commando Slimline

Date: Circa early 1990s

Owner: Gareth Mitchell

This won't be the oldest Buddy Commando Slimline but it been with me my whole diving career.

Bought early 1990's. BSAC trained at UC Swansea 1990. Loads of UK diving, then 2006 to 2011 full time instructing PADI in Phuket.

It's orange colour ensured people asked me about it everyday! Its still going strong,  its been back to AP just the once, for one minor reinforcement in the neck.

It's got an easier life now as I also use a AP Tekwing Lite.

Thanks Gareth 






BUDDY Arctic  | BUDDY Seaking

Arctic - Early 1980s  |  Seaking 1988

Sent in by: Rob Irvine

"Still in use today"






BUDDY Arctic  | BUDDY Commando  | BUDDY Commando Slimline

Arctic - 1988  |  Commando & Slimline 1994

Owners: David & Sue Whitelaw


Speaking to my diving friend Kas at our Monday training evening she brought to my attention your 50 year old challenge of finding old but working ABLJ's and Stab Jackets.

Sue has the Buddy Slimline, serial number 089433130, bought new by us on 16th June 1995 from SDS Diving Sheffield. We still have the receipt showing a purchase price of £269.00 plus £5.00 P&P!

My Buddy Commando serial number (very faint) 942052, bought secondhand from a diving club member who unfortunately gave up diving for health reasons about 1995 / 1996.  It was in 'as new' condition when I bought it.

The Buddy Artic serial number A884220 was bought new by us in 1988, we cannot remember from where and we have lost the receipt over several house moves! It is in super condition, the colour has not faded from the vibrant red as supplied, the dump valves are still perfect as well as the mouth piece.

Both the Stab Jackets are used regularly by Sue and I, about 8-10 dives per year and are faultless. The Buddy Artic is in full working order and could be used for diving. It is however used at our dive club 'Skill Nights' where some of our recent or young divers have never seen or heard of an ABLJ ! 

The challenge we set for our members is to swim a length of the pool under water by balancing the air put into the jacket to breath off and not too much causing the swimmer to surface. Great fun and enjoyed by all taking part.

Should you require any further information on these great pieces of kit please do not hesitate to ask. 

Sue and I hope your 50th Anniversary Year goes well for you all at AP Valves.


David & Sue Whitelaw







BUDDY Commando Slimline

Date to be verified - Circa late 1980s / early 1990s

Sent in by: Colin Manders


I can’t find a date on my wife’s BC but I don’t think they come in pink anymore?!







BUDDY Double Gold


Owner: Erik Ballast

I still use my old commando as well…..

Please continue and create the best diving gear…

Thanx in advance for the nice mug.

Erik Ballast

The Netherlands







BUDDY Pacific

June 1987

Owner: Paul Jackman






BUDDY Pacific

Date to be verified - Circa 1985

Owner: Richard Wintershoven - Down Under Duikcentrum

I was diving with a club called Amsterdamse Sport Duikers. I came a lot to Shadow Diving [dive shop] and bought their first new BUDDY.  Now I still dive with a BUDDY.

Unfortunately I don't have the warranty card any more. I have made thousands of dives with BUDDY. [Today] I have a dive school Shop and dive school - Down Under in Landsmeer - in the Netherlands - for almost 30 years. Afther the horseshoe I bought my first buddy commando  jacket...

Met vriendelijke groet Richard Wintershoven






BUDDY Commando

Date to be verified - Circa 1988

Owner: Richard Wintershoven - Down Under Duikcentrum








April 1985

Owner: Andy Collins

This BUDDY Seaking is in mint condition and still has the original packaging, sales and instruction leaflets!  Sent in by Mrs Ira Collins:

"Here are photos of my husbands ( Mr Andy Collins ) Buddy Sea King which he has had since 1985.  At 65yrs he manages a dive at least once a month with his 81yr old mate.  

Good luck with the 50 yrs Celebrations." 






"Stoney Kev"

BUDDY Commando Slimline TD

October 1993

Owner: Kevin Wrather

"...I bought it from Mr Parker (directly) at The Dive Show in Birmingham about 1993." 






BUDDY Commando

Summer 1998

Owner: Patrick Farrell

"Probably not the oldest by far, purchased summer 98, I still have  the original receipt. This old friend has had the pleasure of diving in the UK, Scotland, Scilly, Egypt, Bonaire, Cayman, Grenada, St Lucia, Tobago, Truk, Yapp, Poor Knights NZ, Thailand, N Sulawesi, & Misool. Despite all its travels it has never let me down or been damaged by baggage handlers."

Patrick Farrell, Falmouth






The Original Bill, the Lifetime Warranty and the Trusty Buddy Commando Jacket 


In action in the Maldives


BUDDY Commando

Date: 18th July 1992

Owner: Graham Illing

Congratulations to AP Diving on their 50th Anniversary. I have had great service from the company over the years, many thanks. 

I have a bid for one of the 50 Oldest Buddy BCDs Challenge.

I bought my Buddy Commando on 18th July 1992 and have done approximately 740 dives with it since. I learned to dive in Lake Coniston with Dalton BSAC and have dived actively in Scotland with Montrose BSAC, and abroad eg Bali, Cuba, Djibouti, Egypt, Jordan, Maldives, Oman. This year I’ve just returned from a trip to the Maldives (see above) and the jacket will be accompanying me to the Galapagos in August!







Using my Arctic yesterday (22nd May 2019)


BUDDY Arctic


Owner: Timothy Tew

Hi Jeff,  A couple of photos of the Buddy Arctic in action. The one taken of me standing in the RIB was late 80's, the others 90's. The all orange Arctic I still use dates from 1988-9 I think. The original cylinder which came with that one was dated 1988. I found the Arctic comfortable and non restrictive when drysuit diving. You also had a robust lifejacket when back in the boat.

Timothy Tew







BUDDY Commando


Owner: Barry Whitfield

"I regularly enter Divernet’s competitions and had just entered one for a u/w photography book when minutes later I got a call saying I had won that month’s competition. I thought that’s quick and said I was looking forward to reading the book when the voice on the other end told me I’d won the Buddy Commando from the previous month’s AP Diving prize draw. As it happens my girlfriend (Beth Lindsay) was just starting her Club Diver course so being noble and wanting mega brownie points I got the Commando in her size. This was in 2002 and it’s been used every year since and although it’s not very ancient, I’ll bet it’s the oldest prize Buddy Commando" 

ScubaBEW (a.k.a. Barry Whitfield)

}<({(º> Happy Bubbling <º)})>{





BUDDY Commando


Owner: Wilfred Tanser

Attached is a picture of my (custom made) Commando, Serial number 883433 in use wrapped around little old me in Chuuk, Jan this year.  In use with a 'Redwing' as we dived with Twin's. 

Ordered and bought through Wendy at 'Old Mill Diving Centre' in Clanstadwell, Milford Haven, Pembrokeshire.  It's been diving with me or Gill (the wife) in the Med, (Malta, Cyprus, Turkey, Greece, Gibraltar, Spain; Island, Portugal, Canary isles and Madeira; Grenada and Cuba; Bali, Chuuk (truk); New Mexico & Colorado. 

 Wilf Tanser








BUDDY Commando

August 1987

Owner: Graham Brown

Not the oldest, first used August 1987, but probably the most knackered!  Still works fine in the pool; I gave up using it in the sea as I was getting flack about the condition even when I told people that the bladder was fine and the outside just cosmetic. Now use weight integrated Commando as my back has not lasted as well as the jacket.

Graham Brown





Cyprus 1988

Red Sea

BUDDY Commando


Owner: Eddie Clamp


Hello, I bought the BCD in Cyprus in 1988 from Octopus Diving in Larnaca when I was stationed there as Royal Navy working with the Army... While not the oldest you may find, it is old and still in use regularly when I go to the Red Sea on my liveaboard trips. Thought I would include it in your competition as it is with you for servicing.

Eddie Clamp

BSAC Advanced Diver 






BUDDY Commando

May 1988

Owner: Peter Clarridge

Began diving in 2010 with a holiday dry suit try dive on the Churchill Barriers  in Orkney with Scapa Scuba.  On return  home joined Canterbury Divers (BSAC 326 ). Purchased the USED - Buddy Commando BCD whilst training from my instructor  Phil Buckley. 

The BCD was returned to AP Diving for a full refurb and a  much later  a bladder replacement.  (Serial no is  C882264)

The BCD has  dived in Malta and I still in use for local dives off Herne Bay and every  Thurday Club  pool night @ Canterbury  Swimming Pool.  Still my  favourite is the big button inflator !  although I have a  far newer Commando. The refurb of the BCD was  1st CLASS and  all further  support has been excellent. 


Peter Clarridge







BUDDY Commando

Oct 1992

Owner: David Jackson

Here’s a couple of pictures of my trusty Commando. If I remember correctly, I bought it in 1992 from the NEC dive show. There’s a picture of the label but the serial number has long since faded away. Since that time it’s served me well and is still going strong.  You’ve serviced it just once in the intervening years, again if I remember correctly I broke a clip by standing on it!

I bought it during my Novice diver training and subsequently wore it during all BSAC training and assessments including FCD and NI. It’s done an awful lot of U.K. diving around our coasts and a fair amount overseas, too. It’s done the Australian Barrier reef, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Red Sea, Mediterranean, Baltic, Atlantic, Caribbean and Californian Pacific. 

It’s been used in all manner of conditions from stunning viz, reef photography to zero viz finger tip searches for items fallen overboard. It’s responsible for giving me so many fantastic memories of the wonderful under water world. 

Thank you for a great piece of kit! 

Kind regards 

David Jackson

Altrincham, Cheshire





All new kit laid out in May 1991


Pool training in October 2017


Diving in Eccleston Quarry Dec 2017


Drying in April 2018


BUDDY Commando

May 1991

Owner: Neil Smitham

Congratulations on getting to 50 years.

Best wishes for many more.


Neil Smitham

Training Officer Trafford Sub-Aqua Club. BSAC 584.






BUDDY Commando

Oct 1994

Owner: Terry Maloney

Here's some pictures of my Buddy Commando which I bought at the Birmingham dive show in 1994. I realise that it's not going to be the oldest but thought I'd send you the pictures anyway. It's been worn in various locations across the world.

Some reactions to when I've been using it have included one from a German dive guide in the Dominican Republic who was wearing a new Buddy after just retiring his old one after 18000 dives and also had a great reaction to it in Australia from three technical divers who all told me that they still owned their Commandos. Can't find my original receipt and the serial number has faded away now. Wished that I hadn't have moved my Seaking on now!









Dec 1990

Owner: Mark Harris

Hi Jeff

A pic above of me with my camera in my Buddy Sea King # SK904908. Still in regular use albeit in the pool. It’s comfortable and just keeps working.

It’s my third Buddy jacket, the other two are a Commando and a much lighter and more modern Explorer jacket.

Keen U/W photographer of all things from fishes to sleeping beauties. 

Mark Harris







BUDDY Commando

Oct 1987

Owner: Paul Shone

The bottle is stamped Oct 87. Can't see a date on the jacket. I bought this off an instructor at Liverpool university in 1990 and it is still used regularly, most recently in Komodo. It has been serviced maybe once a decade and still works perfectly. 

Best wishes, love all your kit. 

Paul Shone





My ABLJ today


July 1987 driving to dive in wetsuit - Yarmouth, IoW


March 1988, Falmouth submarines


Clovelly Bay 1996 - in use as a lifejacket


May 2013, Chesil Cove


July 2014 - my ABLJ in foreground, looking a little out of place


BUDDY Pacific

April 1987

Owner: Antony Firth

Hi Jeff

Here’s the story of my Buddy Pacific (serial number 0874373). I bought it in March or April 1987 and I was still using it in September 2014.

I learned to dive in 1984-85 with the University of Sussex Sub-Aqua Club (USSAC) and spent time as a volunteer diver with the Maritime Heritage Project at Yarmouth on the Isle of Wight in the summer of 1986. From October 1986 I did a ‘year abroad’ in Strasbourg, where I joined a local French diving club. It was while diving with them that I started buying my own gear, including my Buddy Pacific - so its first dives were in France in April 1987. I was back in Yarmouth in June 1987 where I became the Diving Officer responsible for organising volunteers. I returned to USSAC as Training Officer for my final year at university, and then back to Yarmouth until the project closed in Feb 1989. From my ABLJ being new in April 1987 to February 1989 I did 215 dives totalling over 225 hours, largely a result of diving day-in day-out on the sixteenth century Yarmouth Roads wreck and the submerged prehistoric landsurfaces at Bouldnor Cliff. Quite a tough life for ‘recreational’ equipment!

I opted for a Buddy because of their great reputation, and for an ABLJ because we were often diving from small boats in strong currents. With an ALBJ rather than a stab jacket it was easy to pop out of the backpack harness, push the cylinder up to the crew and then bounce over the tubes to sit in the boat – retaining the safety of the ABLJ as a lifejacket at the surface and on the boat, whilst avoiding an expensive stab sculling around in the bottom amongst the tanks. I even made some minor stab-like modifications – attaching a snap clip to hold my console in front of the ABLJ instead of pushing it through the neck (tricky to get out) and adding a plastic loop in the front pocket to clip a torch and gubbins.

My Buddy was in more sporadic use from 1989 onwards. I continued to work as a diving archaeologist but using surface-supplied equipment in which ABLJs and stabs don’t often feature. By the late 1990s I found myself further from the water as dive supervisor and project manager, so my Buddy languished until I decided to get back into recreational diving in 2012. Needless to say, my 1980s ABLJ caused a few raised eyebrows when I joined North Dorset Sub Aqua Club (as did some of my other antiquated kit and diving practices). Even so, my ABLJ did further sterling service through to the end of 2014 when a new drysuit meant that I had to upgrade. I still have my Buddy. It is still serviceable, and I’m minded to give it another dip!

Congratulations on providing outstanding kit for 50 years!

Kind regards

Antony Firth






BUDDY Commando TD


Owner: Alexander Liddon

I know I'm not in the running, but the spare for my 2005 commando TD is a 2012 Commando

Alexander Liddon







BUDDY Commando


Owner: David Collins

Dear Jeff

Here's me and my beloved buddy which I have constantly used since 1989.  Pictured only last night on our weekly evening club dive.

Safe diving

David Collins 

Diving Officer

Jurassic Divers - Branch of British Sub Aqua Club no. 2572






April 2018, perfekt shape, still in use 😉


BUDDY Pacific

Circa 1992

Owner: Markus Kreiten

[Age?] Actually I have no idea, bought it in 2002 via Ebay. The seller told me he had it for over ten years...

Markus Kreiten

Ratingen, Germany






BUDDY Arctic

Circa 1986

Owner: Alan Anderson

Hi Jeff

I was diving with my local sub-aqua club. I’ve only been a member of this club for a couple of years and so the members are probably not aware of all the old gear I’ve got and still use.

For the first time we were diving from a small boat and I put on my old Buddy Arctic ABLJ.  I’m fairly old fashioned and like to wear a life jacket in small boats!  After the laughter died down someone mentioned your search for old gear.

I bought the jacket second-hand in around 1986-87 when I first started diving, my first logged dive was on 26 Apr 87.  I used it for a good 10 years or so, I can’t remember when I replaced it.  I don’t have the original cylinder either, I replaced that after a few years as it was rather rusted.  I wouldn’t trust the one I’ve got now either, I just partially inflate it while wearing it.  With a decent bottle I would still be more than happy to dive with it mind you so perhaps I should just for the sake of it!

I’ve attached a couple of photographs, one of me back in the late 1980s, It’s on the shores of Loch Ness.  The second taken this weekend.

Kindest Regards








BUDDY Commando

Circa 1987

Owner: Pete Hanger

Hi Jeff

Dave made this one for me and one for Paul Warren, they were specials as they are all black. The date on the cylinder is 1987. Definitely well travelled and used. I also have my current Profile TD (still in use) both are now sun bleached and are brownish colour.

As a matter of interest your dad was my DO when I started with North Warwicks 315 and the shop was in Prior Deram Walk, Canley  [Coventry]

All the manufacturing was done in the sheds out the back of the hardware shop and dive gear was upstairs.

I still have my 1st new reg which I bought from him, an SAS all stainless steel.

Still diving (coming up to 69) just done 2 weeks just south of Oban, a place called Easdale Island and due to go to Plymouth 5-7th July with the club.

Your dad certainly left the diving world one hell of a legacy.

All the best

Pete Hanger DO North Warwicks 315







BUDDY Pacific


Owner: Antonis Krents

Good Morning, 

Pls find attached pictures with details from my 1st buoyancy regulator Buddy AP (sn C8D 80611).  I bought in 1986 when I was 20 years old.

I never stopped diving and since 2017 I am still a happy owner of an AP inspiration trimix rebreather . 

Antonis Krents






BUDDY Arctic

Circa 1995

Owner: Andy Colls

Attached pic of one of my 3 AP Buddy Artics, all still functional as a testament to AP quality and only one ever returned under the lifetime warranty for corrosion of the inflator mechanism. This one was used until about 2000 when I finally caved in and bought a stab jacket. Not sure of the age of this one as it was given to me by Paul Kay about 1995 who knew I still dived with one. Pic was taken a couple of days ago as it has been leant to the props lady for the Berwick upon Tweed Maltings Theatre Festival Opera production of Pirates of Penzance which is to be set in the 70's and required a life jacket - so still in use today!

Happy diving,

Andy Colls






Swanage Pier in 1997


The Red Sea last week


Commando Slimline

Nov 1990

Owner: Gerrard Spear

Hello Jeff

I bought my first and only Buddy Commando Slimline when starting my Novice Training with King Charles Sub Aqua Club in November 1990. It is still going nearly 29 years later.

Attached are pictures from Swanage Pier in 1997 and The Red Sea last week. A testament to the build quality of your gear.

All the best

Gerrard Spear






Commando Slimline

Circa 1992

Owner: Byron Watch

Hi Jeff

We are a local Eastwood Essex dive club o/c and closed circuit... I have had the jacket since I joined the club in 1992.









BUDDY Pacific

Circa 1986

Owner: Sean Burridge

I see you are running a 50th anniversary challenge to find old BCD’s. Found this in my loft and wonder how old it was and how much it is worth? Condition is like new. Even got the bag it came in. 

Many thanks

Sean Burridge






Commando Slimline TD

Circa 1995

Owner: Mladen Schlichte

Hi Jeff, 

I still use a 25 + year old BUDDY BCD SlimlineTD, but I don’t have any evidence of a date. Nevertheless, a photo is attached. Unfortunately, there is no serial number in the pockets. 

The BCD stayed by my side on many dive sites (recently 3 times in Curacao, several times in France, Denmark, Egypt, Croatia, Spain, Malta, Italy, Austria and of course Germany). Everywhere the BUDDY BCD was an eye catcher. 

The quality of my BUDDY BCD is so good that I believe that it could still serve for the last decade of my diving life (I am 65 years old). 

But I am also thinking of ordering a brand-new AP COMMANDO GOLD - LIMITED EDITION as a successor for the next years to dive. What strong arguments do you have to motivate me to switch over to AP COMMANDO GOLD? 

Best Regards, 

Mladen Schlichte


[Jeff at AP: Hi Mladen, I think the really strong arguments belong to your existing BUDDY. I’m guessing you paid about £250-300 back in 1995? So that product has cost you about £10-12 PER YEAR in all that time. What other product in any area of your life has given you such value and service? But ref. the new limited edition Commando Gold: I guess it is a question of “want” rather than “need” and the Commando Gold is a lovely looking BCD – and unique, I doubt we will produce more than about 50 of them – and when it’s gone it’s gone! So go on, treat yourself.]

P.S. Mladen ordered a new AP Commando Gold the same day.







Circa 1978-79

Owner: Unknown

This original BUDDY collar jacket was sent in to us and donated to our historic dive kit collection. Many thanks to that anonymous diver.

The BUDDY is in immaculate condition for a 40 year old BCD, with all seams intact and fully functioning valves. It looks like it has been serviced at some point and a more modern (1980s) dump valve added but the black collar bit and the BUDDY silk-screen badge date it to circa 1979. The oldest BUDDY we have seen to date.





Stoney Cove

Powick 1982

Stoney Cove 1985

Cebu, Philippines 2007

Me & My BUDDYs


(Unknown BUDDY) - Early Double Gold

Dec 1981

Owner: Gareth Morris

Hi Jeff

I joined Warley Underwater Diving Club in 1978, aged 12 and just before Christmas 1981 I was purchased a brand new bright gold ABLJ which I still occasionally use today. This AP valves pre- Buddy Gold branded jacket has served me well being dived most weekends between 1982 and 1996 when I became a PADI Dive Master and was told I needed a more modern and appropriate jacket style BCD, as students had no idea how to deal with horse shoe collar ABLJs when undertaking Rescue Diver Courses. I therefore, reluctantly swopped my trusted diving companion for a Buddy Profile TD, which I am still diving with today and which has just returned from diving trips to Antigua and Thailand.

My relationship with my gold ABLJ was not however over, as when my daughter started diving in 1999, she got to use the Buddy Profile, and I reverted to my old ABLJ. The regular use of this wonderful piece of kit continued until 2004 when my daughter decided diving in the UK was not for her and handed back the Buddy Profile which I have continued to use as my primary BC up until today..

The story of the Gold ABLJ did not end there, as in 2014 my son started to dive and my Buddy Profile got loaned to him and I returned again to diving with my original ABLJ. That was until I bought him his own Buddy Commando Explorer  BC at the Birmingham dive show in October 2015.

Whilst I now predominantly dive with my Buddy Profile TD, every so often my original ABLJ is still used, as a life jacket when going out on smaller diving boats, when snorkelling and occasionally when travelling on flights with carry on luggage allowance only. Having just returned from Antigua where I had been diving with Paul Roos, Jolly Dive, who is an advocate of diving with simple horse shoe ABLJs, it is my intention to take my old gold ABLJ and dive this in Antigua on my next visit.

The attached photos show me with my “Buddys”, Myself and my dive buddy Paul diving at Stoney Cove in 1983, myself wearing the ABLJ on the banks of the river Teme just outside Powick Worcester in 1982 and myself wearing the Profile TD on a dive boat in Cebu Philippines in April 2007.

Looking forward to diving another 40 years in Buddy jackets.

Many thanks for making such great durable products and hope you keep doing this for another 50 years.


Gareth Morris








BUDDY Arctic

Week 26, 1986

Owner: Steve Peddie


Hi, just found your competition while browsing your website looking to replace old faithful with one of your newer models. I have been using this since I think 1984 but I'm sure if you check the serial number you can confirm that. Mid 90's I replaced the cylinder with a lighter weight aluminium one to alleviate the rubbing on my sunburnt neck diving in the red sea. Other than some of the pop studs loosing their "pop" ability it is still sound. Any way just thought I would add it to your entries.

Regards Steve Peddie

[Hello Steve, The serial # tells us your Arctic was the 14th one we made in week 26 of 1986. Kevin remembers it !]









BUDDY Commando x 2


Owners: Mr & Mrs Peter Daines

Hi Jeff

Here's 2 photos of my wife's and my buddy commando jackets they were both purchased in about 1986 and as you can see are set up for twin cylinders. 

After all these years we still use them on a regular basis. We have been delighted with them, they are tough and robust and we intend to use them for a long time yet. 

Best regards

Peter Daines 







1987 - Dale and Little Dale

Gozo 2017 - Dale and  Dr Dale 


BUDDY Commando

The 18th Commando built in Week 14, 1987

Owner: Dale Roberts

I purchased my buddy commando C871418 in April 1987 at least that’s when I think it was as my godson tried it on.  The other picture is 30 years later when we went diving together in Gozo, he has grown a little since then.

My Buddy is still going strong and has clocked up a few thousand dives. Thanks very much for this excellent piece of kit. 

Dale Roberts










Week 31, 1986

Owner: Allan & Bunny Colclough

This original BUDDY Seaking is a unique one-off build, made in 1986 for King Hussein of Jordan. It was presented to him at the opening of the Royal Diving Centre at Aqaba in Jordan by the centre's managers and former Midlands Regional BSAC Instructors, Allan and Bunny Colclough.  The Seaking found its way back to us in September 2018 thanks to Allan and Bunny's kind offer of returning the jacket to Cornwall after it was gifted to them on their retirement from the RDC.








If you are also posting this on your own social media, it would great if you could use #AP50THC in the text? That way we get to collect all the good stuff in one place. Cheers.  

The closing date for OLDEST BUDDY submissions is 30th November 2019


50 Oldest BUDDY Challenge Terms & Conditions

  • The closing date for entries to all 3 Challenges is midnight 30thNovember
  • Shortly after this date the AP judging panel will convene to determine the Oldest BUDDY BCDs submitted.
  • If there is no clear winner the panel will select a short-list of finalists (however many this proves to be) and enter them into a random prize draw to determine an overall winner.
  • All 50 prize winners will be notified and prizes distributed as soon as possible after the closing date.
  • Contestants may also enter the other 2 Challenges with a maximum of one entry per contestant per Challenge.
  • Employees of AP Diving are not eligible to enter the Oldest BUDDY Challenge or Dive Adventure Challenge (but may enter the AP Staff Challenge or get involved with the Beach Clean Challenge).
  • AP Diving reserves the right to post the content of any submissions online on their web and social media channels.
  • Prizes are provided by AP Diving.
  • The decisions of the AP judging panel are final.

The 50th Anniversary AP STAFF Challenge

Diving or non-diving - whatever your sport / hobby / talent...


This one is for AP staff and just for fun. The challenge is for staff to come up with whatever individual or team challenge they want, diving or otherwise. The only criteria being - it must be a "challenge" - something that pushes them outside their comfort-zone, beyond what they would normally do.

We have joggers, gig rowers, bakers, 10k runners, photographers, pilots, gardeners, horse-riders, classic vehicle restorers, singers, sailors, skiers, rugby players, half-marathon athletes, home-brewers, golfers, champion equestrians... to name but a few of the hobbies, interests and talents in the AP team. Oh, and quite a few of these are divers as well.

It will be great to see what they come up with as their personal 50th Challenge in 2019.

Watch this space. I will log the successful challenges as we go on this page and all over the AP social media pages. Hopefully we will make it to the 50 total by the end of the year.




2nd January 2019

Lanzarote Dreaming

Jeff Parker

AP Marketing & IT Manager

Dive Report

Go Here



20th January 2019


Storm Force 10

Jo Miners

AP Accountant

Race Report

Go Here



3rd February 2019


Newquay 10

Jo Miners

AP Accountant

Race Report

Go Here



23rd February 2019


Looe 10 Miler

Jo Miners

AP Accountant

Race Report

Go Here



17th March 2019


Half Marathon

Jo Miners

AP Accountant

Race Report

Go Here



24th March 2019


Tamar 10k

Jo Miners

AP Accountant

Race Report

Go Here



24th March 2019


London Landmarks
Half Marathon

Sarah Lambrick

AP Inspiration Servicing & Sales

Race Report

Go Here



14th April 2019


An Res Hellys

Jo Miners

AP Accountant

Race Report

Go Here



1st May 2019


Godrevy 10k

Jeff Parker

AP Marketing & IT Manager

Race Report

Go Here



3rd-6th May 2019


World Pilot Gig Championships

Darren Culme

AP Toolroom Charge Hand


Go Here



12th May 2019


Trevornick 10k

Jo Miners

AP Accountant

Race Report

Go Here



19th May 2019



Half Marathon

Jo Miners

AP Accountant

Race Report

Go Here



31st May 2019


Polzeath 10k

Jeff Parker

AP Marketing & IT Manager

Race Report

Go Here



8-9th June 2019


Kernow Divefest

  • Jeff Parker 
  • Mike Etheredge
  • Neil Bolton
  • Tom Wood

Dive Report

Go Here




18-26th June 2019



Red Sea Silence
Orca, Safaga

  • Martin Parker 
  • Mike Etheredge
  • Mike Fowler
  • Tino de Rijk
  • Rita Oosterbaan

Dive Report

To Follow




July 2019



Zoe Caines

AP Inspiration Sales

Progress Report

Go Here




11th July 2019


Poldhu 10K

Jeff Parker

AP Marketing & IT

Race Report

Go Here




11th July 2019


Poldhu 10K

Jo Miners

AP Accountant

Race Report

Go Here




4th August 2019


Indian Queens Half Marathon

Jo Miners

AP Accountant

Race Report

Go Here




4th August 2019


Indian Queens Half Marathon

Jo Miners

AP Accountant

Race Report

Go Here




15th August 2019


The Tim Coast 10k

Bys Viken Events Charity Run

  • Jo Miners
  • Dave Jackson
  • Andrea Jackson
  • Sarah Andrews
  • Jeff Parker


Race Report

Go Here




16th August 2019


St Levan 10k

Jo Miners

AP Accountant

Race Report

Go Here




June 2019


Ghost City Quad Safari

Red Sea Silence Team

  • Martin Parker (MD)
  • Mike Etheredge (AP Test Diver)
  • Mike Fowler (AP Distributor)
  • Rita Oosterbaan (Inspiration Instructor)
  • Tino de Rijk (Inspiration Guru)

See the video

Go Here




1st September 2019


Treggy 7

Jo Miners

AP Accountant

Race Report

Go Here




Sept 8th 2019


The Martin Jennings Memorial Motorcycle Run


  • Martin Parker (MD)
  • Jeff Parker (Marketing)
  • Rod MacGregor (CNC Guru) 

Run Report

Go Here




15th September 2019


Truro Half

Jo Miners

AP Accountant

Race Report

Go Here




Oct 2019



Zoe Caines

AP Inspiration Sales

Progress Report

Go Here




29th September 2019


Cubert 5

Jo Miners

AP Accountant

Race Report

Go Here




October 2019



Kevin Yeo

Sue Williams

Della Lilley

Jeff Parker

Progress Report

Go Here




6th October 2019


Cardiff Half

Jo Miners

AP Accountant

Race Report

Go Here