Our Community - Jolene & LorneJackson - "'Grumpy' before diving - 'Happy' after

The Island Newspaper, Ambergris Caye, Belize            Vol. 13, No. 13            April 10, 2003

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Jolene and Lorne Jackson

Tourists always talk about the beautiful barrier reef that is San Pedro's main attraction, but who are the people that take them to see it? Tour guides and boat captains work together to make visits to Belize's marine parks memorable for those who arrive from far away destinations. Then there are those whose job it is to ensure that tourists are safe in the water while diving or snorkeling. Jolene and Lorne Jackson of Grumpy and Happy Dive Instruction are just these kinds of people.

   Jolene Jackson was born to Carole Ann and Clayton Bowman (a military man) at a Canadian Forces base in Marville, France. When she was three years old, her father was transferred to Ottawa, Canada, a trip that was only the beginning of her travels. Jolene's father was transferred to different bases every two or three years in cities across Canada. The family finally settled in British Columbia (B.C.), Canada when she was 12 years old.

    At the very young age of 13, Jolene went to work at her first job, as a strawberry picker during the summer vacation. At 16, she worked as a chambermaid in Mission, B.C. for a few months before being hired as a secretary at the Cultus Lake Park Tourism Bureau in the heart of the Fraser Valley.  Jolene worked at the park for three and a half years before she met her future husband, Lorne Jackson. 

    Although Lorne had lived most of his life in Toronto, Canada, he had also traveled. He was born in Toronto, and moved across the ocean to the island of Bermuda at the age of 12. Three months after his 17th birthday, he returned to Canada and joined the army.  The following eight years of his tour in the army were spent as a weapons specialist. Lorne was attached to the United Nations Force in the Middle East and served for a period of time in the Golan Heights, on the Israeli/Syrian border. He described it as an "interesting" place to be although there were some harrowing experiences. When Lorne returned to Canada he was transferred to Chilliwack, B.C., where he met his bride to be, Jolene. 

    The couple "courted" for two years and then married in March of 1981. A year later, Lorne left the military to join the Canadian Penitentiary Service, where he worked in a maximum-security prison in Aggasiz, B.C. In the meantime, Jolene had left her job at the tourist bureau, and was hired by the Chilliwack General Hospital as a purchasing clerk, where she worked for the next year.

    During this time, Lorne decided that the job at the penitentiary was not suited to him, and that he would be much happier working as a police officer. The couple moved back to Bermuda, where Lorne was trained to be a policeman, and served for the next two years. Jolene found work with a company called Bermuda Office Services, a secretarial employment agency. After two years, Jolene and Lorne decided to return to Canada. Lorne applied and was accepted to the Winnipeg Police Department in Manitoba where all three of their children (Lorie, Amy, and Nicolas) were born. 

    Lorne served on several police forces in Canada such as the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), the Winnipeg City Police, in addition to the Atikokan and Elliot Lake Police Departments, for the next 14 years. During that time, he spent long hours studying after work, and earned two certificates in Advanced Police Studies, from Waterloo University. Following that, Lorne attended Laurentian University and obtained a third certificate in Law and Justice. 

    Following Lorne's service in Elliot Lake he was transferred to the Ontario Police College to teach fellow police officers law, and investigation techniques, particularly in relation to child abuse, sexual offenses, and discrimination, (areas in which he had special training). He also taught law in relation to various criminal offenses, as well as officer safety. With all three children in school, Jolene took a job as a cashier in a local grocery store and also drove a school bus. Once they returned to Elliot Lake, Jolene continued to drive a school bus, which seemed to be the appropriate line of work for a mother who still wanted to spend time with her children.

    It was at this point in the couple's lives that they decided to take a chance, and try something new. Jolene and Lorne were both people-oriented and wanted to travel, so they decided to become dive instructors and move to the destination of their choice. Thus, the couple enrolled at the Professional Diving School of America in Florida,USA and graduated as PADI instructors.

   Jolene and Lorne's choice of places to move was based on research gathered over the course of a year. One of the couple's requirements was that English must be the country's first language in order for their children to continue their high school education. After careful consideration and much information provided by a new E-mail friend in San Pedro, Jolene and Lorne decided that Belize was the best location to start a new life.

    Immediately after becoming dive instructors, Jolene and Lorne took a trip to investigate Belize. Impressed with the island, the couple decided to purchase a piece of land in San Pedro, based on its beauty, safety and great business potential. Following a short trip back to Canada, Lorne, Jolene and their children returned to their new home on Ambergris Caye.

    In Belize, the couple first purchased a diving boat, and Jolene named it Grumpy and Happy, which later became their business name and slogan.  Jolene thought that the motto for their dive instruction should be "Grumpy before diving, Happy after." Contrary to popular local belief, the boat was not named after the personalities of its owners, yet the longstanding joke is what tourists always ask, "Who is Grumpy and who is Happy?"   

    Two years later, Jolene and Lorne constructed their own large, private, 10-foot deep pool for instructional purposes and began to teach very small groups of people to dive, and provide occasional snorkelling trips. According to Lorne, "By teaching small classes we find that we have a lot more time to give people on a private level and have a lot more fun doing it. We have had fun and made tons of friends in the process."

   Although the couple loves to take vacations back to Canada, they also choose to relax in Belize. Jolene enjoys playing piano and cross-stitching while Lorne is happy to read novels and tinker about the house. Jolene says that her husband "is a gifted carpenter and handyman." 

   This happy couple is delighted to share their experiences with others, in addition to showing visitors the wonderful undersea world. It is through the skills of people like Jolene and Lorne Jackson that others can safely enjoy the feeling of what it is like to dive into "Our Community".

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