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Fishing For Forces Annual Lunch 2016 – Tuesday Nov 29th

Tuesday November 29th  2016 at 12 Noon: The House of Lords

Dear FFF Supporter

For our annual lunch this year, FFF have managed to reserve the Cholmondeley Room & Terrace at the HOUSE of LORDS courtesy of our patron Lord Dear Kt.QPM.DL.

We have managed to keep single seat prices to £120.00 pp and a table of ten to £1000.00. A table of ten will consist of nine civilian guests and a member of HMAF as an FFF ambassador.

Lunch will be an excellent three course meal with a raffle of numerous superb items to suits all tastes so please bring a £20 note with your name written clearly on it. This will be followed by a small auction of very desirable items.

As you know this is a very popular venue and tables are booked quickly so to allow for invitation posting please RSVP by Friday Nov 19th. Your support is invaluable and it would be a genuine pleasure to have your company.

Due to high security a photo ID (passport / drivers licence) will be required with your personal invitation so please arrive promptly to avoid delayed entry.

For your personal invitation and to secure your seat, please contact Bill Howell on 07850 373760 or [email protected]

We also would appreciate being informed of any special dietary requirements.

Looking forward to the pleasure of your company.

Bill Howell.

FFF Founder

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A Red Letter Day for FFF

The lads getting some instruction

The lads getting some instruction

11th April 2013
See our gallery of the day

The morning started quite grey but brightened considerable with the arrival of 15 lads from 5 SCOTS accompanied by Capt Rob Whyte. The mentors were on high alert and greeted them with coffee and bacon and egg baps and TWFFS baseball caps then it was down to business.

After a short safety talk they were given 15 minutes of excellent casting instruction by Dave Crouch then allocated a mentor 1-1 and fishing began in earnest.

The usual banter of “nae problem laddie” came around the beautiful lake “rod, fly, fish let’s get on” was the cry and then realisation dawned that there was a little more to this than fish jumping on the fly so we need to think this through.

The banter died down and a silent air of concentration reigned until after 20 minutes the cry of “fish on” went round the lake and all kinds of advice and insults were flying in all direction’s aimed at the poor sod who had hooked the first fish. It was then that I realised the competitive spirit had kicked in as it always does at these events once a fish is caught and concentration heightened and became more intense. In a very short time fish were being caught all round the lake and the weigh in for biggest bag and heaviest fish began in earnest.

The morning session was blessed with a cracking bar of silver weighed in at 7lb by Sgnt Van Niekerk, whose smile as a novice to fly fishing was as wide as his fish was long.

Giftbags and breakfast

Giftbags and breakfast

Lunchtime arrived with quite a number of decent fish caught and the Society had laid on a superb spread cooked by 2 mentors Scott Benton and Andy Stoner with sausages, burgers, bacon etc with potato salad & coleslaw that was munched with enthusiasm and several double helpings were observed being enjoyed. During lunch I passed out FFF T Shirts and Alex Nicholson then presented all the guests with a goodie bag with superb mementoes such as leather bound notebooks and other very useful items. These were received very graciously.

On the subject of enthusiasm, after washing lunch down in short order several of the lads picked up their tackle and headed straight back to the lake with mentors running behind still trying to finish what lunch they had managed to grab. These lads were determined not to be denied a fish.

The weather was kind to us as the rain did not return although the wind kept changing in strength and direction but nevertheless hotspots were found and after two fish you had to move and thankfully due to local mentor knowledge nobody blanked.

We also had the pleasure of Steve Backley OBE joining us and his fishing is as mean as his Javelin throwing and he bagged some respectable fish.  His list of Gold, silver and bronze medals won at Olympic, Commonwealth games and World and European Championships is nothing short of incredible.

Thin Red Line Cake

Charlotte Stevens’ Thin Red Line Cake

At the weigh in whilst tea and cakes were being served a work of art in the shape of a magnificent cake appeared presented and made by Charlotte Stevens and was promptly put back in the box by the lads to be taken back to barracks. Greedy beggars didn’t even offer me a finger dip!

After the weigh in Peter Thomason (TWFFS Chair) kindly presented the 1st and 2nd prizes of FFF engraved glass tankards and wristwatches kindly donated by Chris Ball and 3rd prize was a super golfing umbrella donated by Alex Nicholson again from Legal & General. Peter was then presented with a mounted Regimental Plaque by Capt Whyte that I know will take pride of place in the TWFFS lodge. Several more watches and umbrellas were donated to FFF to present at other events. Before I could give my thanks to all I was suddenly presented with a cheque for £500.00 by Alex from L&G to hold other events where possible and it will be put to very good use.

The whole crowd at Chalybeate

The whole crowd at Chalybeate

Special mention has to go to:

Keith Nicholson (TWFFS Treasurer) for organising the funds and such a splendid day leaving me very little to do. Southborough Butchers Chris Wickens and Stuart Knight for a seemingly unending supply of burgers and bacon and sausages.

Jim Streeter fishery manager for his unbounding enthusiasm and welcome and astute stocking of quality fish. And all the mentors who made it a very special day for the lads judging by the handshakes and thank you’s and see you again soon as the lads departed.

Guess who got stuck in the mud and was rescued by Scott and his landrover. Yep, the Prat in the Hat. Thanks Scott!

The total caught was 35 fish.

Largest fish 7lb Sgnt Van Neikerk. Largest Bag 6lbs 7ozs Pte Aitcheson and 3rd with 6lbs 6ozs Pte Aithcheson.

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April 2013 – Chalybeate Springs, Tunbridge Wells

Date: Thursday 11th April 2013
Venue: Chalybeate Springs Fishery, Tunbridge Wells

Description: 

On Thursday 11th April 2013, 15 guests from 5 SCOTS Battalion are invited for a day’s fishing at Chalybeate Springs Fishery, Eridge Green, Tunbridge Wells.

Mentors organised by Tunbridge Wells FF Society

 

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May 2013 – Corfe Lakes, Wiltshire

Date: Thursday 2nd May 2013
Venue: Corfe Lakes, Durrington, Wiltshire

Description: 

On Thursday 2nd May, 12 guests from Tedworth House have been invited for a day’s fishing at Corfe Lakes near Durrington in Wiltshire.

Mentors have been organised by the SDFFA society

 

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June 2013 – Avon Springs, Wiltshire

Date: Wednesday 5th June 2013
Venue: Avon Springs, Durrington, Wiltshire

Description:

On Wednesday 5th June 2013, Imtech Technical Services are sponsoring a Fishing for Forces day and inviting 20 guests from the Ghurkas/KRH to Avon Springs Fishery in Durrington, Wiltshire.

MENTORS ARE REQUIRED

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June 2013 – River Wylye, Wiltshire

Date: Monday 17th June 2013
Location: River Wylye, Wiltshire

Description:

On Monday 17th June 2013, 12 guests from Tedworth House are invited to spend a day fishing with the Wylye Fly Fishing Society on the River Wylye in Wiltshire.

Mentors organised by society

 

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June 2013 – Elinor Fishery, Northampton

Date: Monday 24th June 2013
Venue: Elinor Fishery, Kettering, Northampton

Description:

On Monday 24th June, Elinor Fly Fishers have invited 10 guests to Elinor Fishery in Kettering, Northampton for a day’s fishing.

Mentors organised by society

 

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June 2013 – West House Lakes, Stockton on Tees

Date: Tuesday 25th June 2013
Venue: West House Trout Lakes, Bishopton, Stockton on Tees

Description:

On Tuesday 25th June, Fishing for Forces invites 20 guests from 150 Provo Coy to spend a day’s fishing at West House Trout Lakes at Bishopton, Stockton on Tees.

MENTORS ARE REQUIRED

 

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June 2013 – Avon Springs, Wiltshire

Date: Thursday 27th June 2013
Venue: Avon Springs, Durrington, Wiltshire

Description:

On Thursday 27th June, 24 guests from 18/27 Engineer Squadron are invited to Avon Springs Fishery in Durrington, Wiltshire for a day’s fishing with Fishing for Forces.

MENTORS ARE REQUIRED

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June 2013 – Littlehampton Armed Forces Day On The Green

Date: Saturday 29th June 2013
Venue: Littlehampton Seafront

Description:

Come and visit the Fishing for Forces fundraising stall on Saturday 29th June, as we turn our for Armed Forces Day On the Green at Littlehampton Seafront.

Our FFF Angling Ambassador Mr Sam Bridger will be manning the stall, so stop by and say hello!  A family day out for all.

 

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July 2013 – West House Lakes, Stockton on Tees

Date: Tuesday 2nd July 2013
Venue: West House Trout Lakes, Bishopton, Stockton on Tees

Description:

On Tuesday 2nd July, Fishing for Forces invites 20 guests from 150 Provo Coy to spend a day’s fishing at West House Trout Lakes at Bishopton, Stockton on Tees.

MENTORS ARE REQUIRED

 

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July 2013 – Avon Springs, Wiltshire

Date: Friday 5th July 2013
Venue: Avon Springs, Durrington, Wiltshire

Description:

On Friday 5th July, 24 guests from 101 LOGX are invited to Avon Springs Fishery in Durrington, Wiltshire for a day’s fishing with Fishing for Forces.

MENTORS ARE REQUIRED

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July 2013 – West House Lakes, Stockton on Tees

Date: Tuesday 9th July 2013
Venue: West House Trout Lakes, Bishopton, Stockton on Tees

Description:

On Tuesday 9th July, Fishing for Forces invites 20 guests from 150 Provo Coy to spend a day’s fishing at West House Trout Lakes at Bishopton, Stockton on Tees.

MENTORS ARE REQUIRED

 

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September 2013 – Leckford Lakes, Hampshire

Date: Thursday 12th September 2013
Venue: Leckford Lakes, Itchen Abbas, Hampshire

Description:

On Thursday 12th September, the John Lewis Partnership is inviting 20 guests for a day’s fishing at Leckford Lakes in Itchen Abbas, Hampshire.

Mentors organised by society.

 

 

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September 2013 – Ravensthorpe Reservoir, Northampton

Date: Friday 20th September 2013
Venue: Ravensthorpe Reservoir, Northampton

Description:

On Friday 20th September, Briggs & Forrester is inviting 22 guests for a day’s fishing at Ravensthorpe Reservoir in Northampton.

All tackle and food supplied but mentors are requested to bring a landing net and priest.

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April 2012 – FFF Fundraiser at Apethorpe, Northampton

Date: Saturday 21st April 2012
Time:
TBC
Location:
White Lodge Lake, Swindon

Description:

On Saturday 21st April 2012, Lady Brassey will hold a Fishing for Forces fundraising day at Apethorpe in Northampton.
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2012 Events Confirmed

I am pleased to announce our next series of confirmed events for 2012 with more yet to be confirmed nationwide.

We have had a marvellous response from “Mentors” – those who are giving their time to introduce so many wounded, serving and veteran personnel to the pleasures of fishing. It is most important to me that you, the supporters, see what we achieve on your behalf and I trust it meets with your approval.

Look out for the post-event articles and be very proud for without you it would not happen. Should you or a friend wish to become an “FFF Mentor” in game, coarse or sea angling by passing your skills on to others, please let me know as soon as possible as we may have an event close to you this year.

To get in touch, find the details on our Contact Us page.

My sincere thanks

Bill Howell
(Founder)

2012 Confirmed Events

27th March: 15 guests from 2nd Batt Para PRU to Chigboro Trout fishery Kent (Fly). All mentors, tackle and food organised.
12th April: 8/10 guests from Tedworth Hse PRU to White Lodge Lake Swindon (Coarse & Fly). All mentors, tackle and food organised.
21st April: Fundraiser courtesy of Lady Brassey at Apethorpe Northampton.
24th April: 40 guests (Mixed Units) to Sportfish Haywards Lake Reading (Fly). Mentors, tackle and food (Hog Roast) organised.
8th May: Fundraiser (Carp fishing competition) courtesy of Andy Goodman of Kent carping at lakes in Kent.
24th May: 8 guests from Tedworth Hse PRU to Corfe Lakes Enford. Mentors, tackle and food organised.
29th June: 20 guests to Avon Springs. Mentors,tackle and food organised.
Date TBC: but 1st week September 20 guests to Ravensthorpe reservoir (Boat Fly). Mentors, tackle and food organised.
11th September: 8/10 guest from Tedworth Hse PRU to Corfe Lakes, Enford. Mentors, tackle and food organised (Fly).
13th September: 20 guests (Mixed Units) to Leckford Lakes Chilbolton (Fly). Mentors, tackle and food (Hog Roast) organised.

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Invicta FFC Fishing for Forces Event

Members of the Invicta Fly Fishing Club of Cambridge, in conjunction with the charity Fishing For Forces, organised and held on 23rd June a trout fishing day for forces personnel returning from Afghanistan and other postings around the world where British forces are present. Not a charity day but a “well done lads and thank you” day.

The event was held at Elinor trout fishery, kindly assisted by the fishery proprietor (himself no novice at fly fishing… Ed Foster, Captain of the England Fly Fishing team).

Members of Invicta FFC and Fishing for Forces guests after a day at Elinor trout fishery.

Members of Invicta FFC and Fishing for Forces guests after a day at Elinor trout fishery.

Each soldier’s day ticket was paid for by an Invicta member, with lunch provided by the club and some generous donors. The day began in heavy driving rain – an unfortunate introduction to any outdoor sport – settling down to an afternoon of gusting winds. After some initial casting instruction some guests, with mentoring Invicta members, spent some time on the bank, whilst some began on the boats with members. With a wind blowing onto the bank which seemed to hold most fish, making casting difficult for inexperienced casters, the afternoon session saw all guests in boats.

Most of the soldiers caught fish, almost all for the first time. Best bag, of 6 trout, was taken by Bdr Jason Palmer, with best fish, approaching 3lbs, being taken by Gunner Ashley McEvoy. Prizes were donated by Fishing For Forces, Invicta FFC and Elinor Fishery.

More information available from www.invictaffc.org.uk and www.fishingforforces.org

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Leckford Lake Photo Slideshow

We’ve now put together a slideshow of photos taken at the brilliant Red Lion Food Fishing Day, heldat Leckford Estates in April courtesy of the John Lewis Partnership.

Everyone who attended had a great time, with mentors providing excellent support as always. We were also lucky enough to have a fabulous hog roast, generously supplied by the Leckford keepers and enjoyed by all.

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Orvis Fundraiser at Wykeham Lakes, Yorkshire

The kind folks at Orvis UK will be running a fantastic Fly Tackle demo day at Wykeham Lakes, Charm Park in Yorkshire to raise money for Fishing for Forces. Come along and try your hand at casting on what will be a superb day by the water.

It will take place at 12pm on Thursday 16th June 2011 and tickets cost £5. To book, contact Mike Heelis or James Doyle at the Pickering store on 01751 473 060.

Orvis

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Lady Caroline Brassey Fishing For Forces Fundraiser

at
The Manor House Apethorpe Northampton
on April 23rd 2011

The Manor, Apethorpe

The Manor, Apethorpe

There could be no more suitable title for this article as everything from beginning to end emanated and revolved around Lady Brassey.

From the moment she telephoned me with this most generous offer from her and her husband David, she took command and with blurring speed, everything was in place.

From the designing, printing and personally sending out two hundred and fifty invitations to friends, followed by organising wine and canapé’s as a greeting for guests, she was in complete command and aware at all times as to who was doing what, where and when. This of course left me at the starting gate with little to do – a rare event!

The weather was excellent and the setting stunning – from the Church Walk to the Lake walk, the beauty and tranquillity must have been felt by all who visited.

Part of Lady Brassey's collection

Part of Lady Brassey's collection

Lady B also added to the event by placing a large selection of glass and porcelain items from her own collection for sale to entice collectors and her army of family and friends made sure that from the moment one stepped through the gate (and paid the minor entrance fee) you were made to feel at ease and most welcome.

My wife and I manned the FFF stand and received many donations in different forms, from funds to fishing plus a pair of well-cared-for Salmon Rods and Reels courtesy of Lt Col (Ret) West for a fortunate vet to use in the future. Andrew Flitcroft (editor of Trout & Salmon) also took time to bring his family, take a few pictures and donated a subscription for a year to this superb magazine for the tombola.

The Fishing for Forces stand

The Fishing for Forces stand

Lady B commented with a disarming smile that if a short note did not appear in the magazine re FFF she would add something of him to her collection. I got the distinct feeling there is a dungeon somewhere on the estate for non-compliant persons but I was not foolish enough to look for it.

Four lads from 16 RA attended the event as stewards, bringing with them a stunning display board with pictures compiled by Cpl Dene Smith of our FFF Ravensthorpe event (Sept 2010 – I have one now to go with our stand) and they did a sterling job discussing with guests the merits of an Army career and the basics of FFF. The assistance by these lads was invaluable and my sincere thanks go to Cpl’s Smith and Docherty and Sgt’s Price and Shepherd.

I cracked up when one corporal asked a sergeant in good humour as Lady B whirled past on yet another task checking progress with daughters Zara and Chloe “is that the Lady RSM in charge” and the reply was “yes and she will add something of yours to her collection if you are not on that gate taking money sharpish” to which the corporal swiftly took off for the gate. A lot of laughter and good will was shared by both guests and hosts throughout the day and we fervently wished that all events could be so well organised.

The estate at Apethorpe

The estate at Apethorpe

The weather was idyllic with brilliant sunshine and people meandered around the estate admiring the lake and islands totally free of all worldly woes. The tombola stand was a very popular stop with a large number of tickets sold for numerous gifts donated by many of Lady Caroline’s friends and a superb presentation box of wine donated by a chap I had the pleasure to meet just once at a mill, after we chatted about FFF.

My genuine thanks to Trevor Hughes and associates of T&W Wines who delivered the package personally, the lads of 16 RA and to all of the friends of Lady B who donated and also took the time to come and support us throughout the whole day.

Mrs Howells manning the FFF stand

Mrs Howells manning the FFF stand

Edward (Son of Lady C) arrived with his family and a small addition to the family who, when introduced to my wife, inspired her to give me one of those “I want one of these” looks (see picture) to which I promptly took a sudden interest in the lake and fish therein.

The generosity of Lord and Lady Brassey and family did not stop there – they have most kindly offered their lake to veterans for a number of days fishing throughout the season and there are stories of 25lb plus Carp cruising just below the surface. I had to stop a couple of the lads jumping in for a closer look when they spotted one!

The day ended brilliantly with an astonishing record for FFF of £1,309.70, raised entirely due to the efforts of Lady Brassey, her family and friends.

Thank you seems such small reward on this occasion so we have to get more vets to the waterside to show our thanks and make sure they know who helped us get them there.

Lady B has asked if she can do something similar next year; there is no stopping this lady and Fishing For Forces is truly privileged to have such a good friend and enthusiastic family patronage.

From all the FFF team our very sincere thanks to Lady B, family and all friends for such a marvellous result to a wonderful event.

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Fishing for Forces gives soldiers waterside therapy

Sixteen soldiers, all veterans of operational tours including Afghanistan, enjoyed a complimentary day of fishing at Leckford Lake in Hampshire thanks to the charity Fishing for Forces and local and national businesses and individuals who all contribute time and equipment to the day.

Corporal Morven Thomas with one of the Fishing for Forces mentors (and the trout he caught).

Corporal Morven Thomas with one of the Fishing for Forces mentors (and the trout he caught).

They enjoyed a hog roast lunch as well as one-to one-tuition from fishing experts who volunteered their time to help out. Corporal Morven Thomas (34) from South Africa who is based with 101 Engineer Regiment EOD, caught one of the largest brown trout of the day.

Fishing for Forces was set up to enable soldiers to relax and unwind and perhaps even to pick up a new hobby. Open to all soldiers and ex-soldiers who have served in a warzone the charity offers group events, such as the day at Leckford Lakes, as well as the opportunity to find instructors accross the country who are willing to volunteer their time to help.

The charity was the inspiration of Bill Howell, who was delighted the troops were able to relax by the lake. He said: “Spending the day by the waterside can be very theraputic for people who have been in stressful situations and can help the recovery of those who have been seriously wounded.”

He stressed that the event could not have taken place without all the volunteers involved or the sponsors who provide the venue, food, trophies and shirts for the soldiers; with special mention to Neil Munday from the John Lewis Fly Fishing Club, Dave Coles from Red Lion Foods, John Vines Snr who provided trophies and Ben Granger who provided the fishing equipment.

The Leckford keepers also did a great job of preparing the venue, including creating disabled access for any wounded soldiers.

The next event is to be held at Avon Springs Fisheries in Wiltshire, in June.

This article was first published on 15th April on the Army website at http://www.army.mod.uk/news/24006.aspx

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Soldiers discover relaxation with Fishing for Forces

Twenty four soldiers recently back from operational deployments took to the shores of Ravensthorpe Reservoir, Northampton, on Friday as part of a scheme to allow soldiers a restful day’s fishing away from the strains of operations in Afghanistan.

The angling session was the second ‘Fishing for Forces’ event to be held this year after its launch in June in Durrington, Wiltshire.

“It is a medical fact that anytime spent by the waterside is extremely therapeutic and assists recovery in trying times,” explained co-founder of the scheme Bill Howell. “It also gets personnel out of the military/medical environment that proves most beneficial.

A soldier fishing at Ravensthorpe Reservoir

A soldier fishing at Ravensthorpe Reservoir

“One of our guests at Avon Springs in June – a 26-year-old and has already served four tours in Afghanistan – turned to me over a coffee and said: ‘I was not sure there was this much peace left in the world’. That comment made all our hard work worthwhile, and is what Fishing for Forces is for.”

‘Fishing for Forces’ is designed for anyone who has been on an Operational Tour and could do with a day of peace and quiet by the water.

The scheme is available to all service men and women from the Navy, Army or Air Force who have returned from an operational duty within the previous 18 months.

It’s a chance to unwind

Friday’s event at Ravensthorpe was suggested by sponsors Briggs & Forrester, and was attended by a number of soldiers from 16 Regt RA and 33 Engineer Regt of all ranks from Sappers to Lieutenant Colonels.

Some of those attending are not long back from difficult tours in Helmand province, while many also had little to no fishing experience.

“I’ve hooked my ear, elbow, jumper, boot, and some weeds, but no fish yet,” admits Sapper Robert Price, 21, who lost two friends to IEDs during his six month tour on HERRICK 11. “I’m enjoying it though – it’s a chance to unwind.”

Events across the country

Bill shows a soldier how to fish

Bill Howell shows a soldier how to fish

Fellow Explosive Ordnance Disposal specialist, LCpl Bobby Willett, 23, was having equally poor luck catching any fish, but with two Iraq tours and not long back from Afghanistan, where he found ten IEDs during his tour, he was also enjoying the experience.

“I’ve no experience with fishing,” he said, “But I thought I would give it a go and see if I liked it. We’re having a bit of a competition to see who can get the most fish, or the biggest, depending on what I eventually catch, but it is relaxing.”

The organisers plan to put on more day events and opportunities for soldiers to fish around the country.

“I am approaching more companies to sponsor events nationwide at venues easily accessible to recovery centres and camps to keep travelling for guests to a minimum,” said Bill. “My intention is to hold a number of events across the country from Scotland to Cornwall.”

Details of the next event will be made available through the chain of command and a soon-to-be-launched website, www.fishingforforces.org.

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A great success for Fishing for Forces

Avon Springs FisheriesA new scheme to provide a day’s fishing for soldiers was launched at Avon Springs Fisheries in Durrington, Wiltshire, on 16 June 2010.

The scheme allows service personnel from the three armed forces, whether fit or injured, to experience the relaxation and stress-free environment fishing provides.

Fishing for Forces was the brainchild of Bill Howell and Christopher Robinson who, having read a letter in angling magazine Trout & Salmon from a soldier in Afghanistan enthusing about the therapeutic benefits of being by the water fishing, decided they should try and offer fishing days to all service personnel returning from Ops.

Christopher, whose son is currently in Afghanistan, said: “I read Lt Davis’ letter and so I wrote to the magazine saying wouldn’t it be fantastic if people in the UK could give members of our forces some fishing when they got back.

“It’s a wonderful day out, a chance to relax, forget about all the stresses and strains of operations and just have a nice quiet day on the water.”

A reel treat

Bill explained: “When Christopher replied to the letter, inviting Lt Davis for a day’s fishing when he got back, I thought that’s a really nice idea. Why don’t we try and extend it to everybody? Especially those who have sacrificed a part of their body, or a part of their mind.

“And, fishing and the waterside has always been a very theraputic aid to people recovering from all kinds of illnesses or injury.”

A number of troops from nearby 26 Engineer Regiment and 4 Rifles came along to enjoy a day relaxing with rod and net by the lakes of the trout farm, which is nestled in the south Wiltshire countryside on the edge of Salisbury plain.

The trout farm was hired for the day by keen local fisherman Jim Steele, who wanted to share his passion for fishing with the soldiers, some of whom have only returned to the UK in the past six weeks.

A new experience

A soldier and his catch at Avon Springs

Sapper Will Coldrick from 26 Engineer Regiment (right) with Instructor Jim Steele (Picture: Shane Wilkinson, Crown Copyright/MOD 2010)

Lance Corporal Mark Zareh (22), ‘Jock’ to his mates, who is a member of Support Company, Reconnaissance Platoon, 4 Rifles, took to fly fishing like it was second nature. He was soon casting one-handed, a rare ability in someone so new to the sport.

Jock, who grew up Glasgow, serves with the Reconnaissance Platoon. They handed over to 40 Commando (Royal Marines), in the deadliest part of Helmand province, in April.

He said: I walked into work one day and my platoon serjeant said ‘who wants to go fishing?’ So me and Rifleman Butt put our hands up for it and that’s how come we are here today.

“The only experience I’ve had fishing before this was doing a bit of salt water fishing for pleasure. I’m getting the hang of this fly fishing and I really like it.”

During his “Brilliant” day by the river, Jock managed to catch a 4lb trout.

Many of the soldiers had never fished before. This was a new experience for them. However, they were all relaxing and enjoying the therapeutic benefits of the fly fishing day. And, with the opportunity to catch a whopper, the lads got into the competitive spirit of the event, too.

‘I wanted to come fishing because it’s relaxing’

A tasty lunch was delivered by the staff at Avon Springs and by the end of the day 11 large trout had been successfully fished, weighed and put on ice. Prizes were awarded for various catches with the largest fish weighing in at a hefty 6lbs 14oz.

Sapper William Morgan (22), ‘Willie’ to his mates, is a member of 30 Squadron 4 Armoured Troop, 26 Engineer Regiment. He was very enthusiastic about his first experience of fly fishing.

“We heard about the fishing day through our boss and thought it would be a good day out. I wanted to come fishing because it’s relaxing and something enjoyable,” he said. “I have fished before, but not since I was a lad.”

Willie, whose parents live in Kirriemuir, Angus, was the first Trojan operator in Helmand province. The Trojan and Python mine-clearing equipment was used in Afghanistan during Op MOSHTARAK and it was Willie and his colleagues who used the machine to clear vast swathes of Helmand countryside of bombs.

‘We’ve got some fishing not too far away’

Bill said: “The bottom line is whether they’re in hospital or whether they’re in a base or at home recovering, we’ve got some fishing not too far away. That’s sea fishing, coarse fishing, trout fishing and salmon fishing.

“So, if they can get themselves to the waterside, we’ll happily organise the tackle, some lunch and a wonderful day out.”

Major Derek Saunders, of the Army Personnel Branch that helped co-ordinate the soldiers’ attendance, said: “Fishing, and in particular fly fishing, is a sport that is puts the angler in beautiful surroundings in all weathers.

“The challenge of choosing the correct fly for the right conditions, selecting where to present the fly on the water to attract a game fish requires focused attention.

“However, once a fish is hooked the situation becomes an exciting battle between the fish and the angler in which sometimes the angler will lose. The result is a period spent in a way that, to put it simply, is the best stress buster going. And that’s great for those who have returned from Ops.

Anyone who is able to help Fishing for Forces by donating equipment, offering a venue, or sponsoring a soldier for a day’s fishing is invited to contact Bill Howell – for equipment donations and soldier sponsorship – on 020 7385 2135 email: [email protected]

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Fishing scheme is ‘stress buster’ for troops back from Operations

A new scheme to provide Service Personnel who have recently been on operational deployments with a restful day fishing was launched yesterday, Wednesday, 16 June 2010.

Sapper Will Coldrick and instructor

Sapper Will Coldrick from 26 Engineer Regiment (right) with Instructor Jim Steele (Picture: Shane Wilkinson, Crown Copyright/MOD 2010)

‘Fishing for Forces’, was created after a soldier wrote a letter to angling magazine ‘Trout and Salmon’ enthusing about the therapeutic benefits he experienced when fishing.

After reading the soldier’s plea, Bill Howell and Christopher Robinson, whose son is currently in Afghanistan, set up the scheme to offer fishing days to all soldiers returning from operations. Christopher said:

“I read Lieutenant Davis’ letter and so I wrote to the magazine saying wouldn’t it be fantastic if people in the UK could give members of our Forces some fishing when they got back.

“It’s a wonderful day out, a chance to relax, forget about all the stresses and strains of operations and just have a nice quiet day on the water.”

‘Fishing for Forces’ is designed for anyone who has been on an Operational Tour and could do with a touch of peace and quiet and would benefit from the healing effect that a day by the water has to offer.

The scheme is available to all service men and women from the Navy, Army or Air Force who have returned from Operational Duty within the previous 18 months.

Colour Serjeant Vince Bowerman with instructor

Colour Serjeant Vince Bowerman from 4 Rifles (right) with Instructor Gerald Hunt during the inaugural Fishing 4 Forces day at Avon Springs Fisheries, Durrington (Picture: Shane Wilkinson, Crown Copyright/MOD 2010)

See the RN & RM Angling Association website at Related links for more information.

The scheme was launched at Avon Springs Fisheries in south Wiltshire yesterday and was attended by a number of troops from nearby 26 Engineer Regiment and 4 Rifles who took advantage of the chance to relax with rods and nets.

The trout farm was hired for the day by keen local fisherman Jim Steele, who wanted to share his passion for fishing with soldiers, some of whom have only returned to the UK in the past six weeks after a very difficult operational tour in Helmand province, losing comrades and then adjusting to life back in Wiltshire.

Some of the soldiers who attended the launch had never fished before and some hadn’t fished since they were children. They said they were enjoying the peace and quiet and didn’t realise just how relaxing fishing could be.

Lance Corporal Mark Zareh, aged 22, who is a member of Support Company, Reconnaissance Platoon, 4 Rifles, who handed over to 40 Commando Royal Marines, in the deadliest part of Helmand province in April 2010 took to fly fishing like it was second nature. He was soon casting one-handed, a rare ability in someone so new to the sport. He said:

“I walked into work one day and my platoon Serjeant said ‘who wants to go fishing?’ So me and Rifleman Butt put our hands up for it and that’s how come we are here today.

“The only experience I’ve had fishing before this was doing a bit of salt water fishing for pleasure. I’m getting the hang of this fly fishing and I really like it.”

Colour Serjeant Vince Bowerman from 4 Rifles (right) with Instructor Gerald Hunt during the inaugural Fishing 4 Forces day at Avon Springs Fisheries, Durrington [Picture: Shane Wilkinson, Crown Copyright/MOD 2010]

During his ‘Brilliant’ day by the river, LCpl Zareh managed to catch a 4lb (2kg) trout.

Sapper William Morgan aged 22 is a member of 30 Squadron 4 Armoured Troop, 26 Engineer Regiment. He was very enthusiastic about his first experience of fly fishing:

“We heard about the fishing day through our boss and thought it would be a good day out. I wanted to come fishing because it’s relaxing and something enjoyable,” he said. “I have fished before, but not since I was a lad.”

Spr Morgan was the first Trojan operator in Helmand province. The Trojan and Python mine-clearing equipment was used in Afghanistan during Op MOSHTARAK and it was Spr Morgan and his colleagues who used the machine to clear vast swathes of Helmand countryside of bombs.

Co-founder of Fishing for Forces Bill said:

“The bottom line is whether they’re in hospital or whether they’re in a base or at home recovering, we’ve got some fishing not too far away. That’s sea fishing, coarse fishing, trout fishing and salmon fishing.

“So, if they can get themselves to the waterside, we’ll happily organise the tackle, some lunch and a wonderful day out.”

Major Derek Saunders, of the Army Personnel Branch that helped co-ordinate the soldiers’ attendance yesterday, said:

“Fishing, and in particular fly fishing, is a sport that is puts the angler in beautiful surroundings in all weathers.

“The challenge of choosing the correct fly for the right conditions, selecting where to present the fly on the water to attract a game fish requires focused attention.

“However, once a fish is hooked the situation becomes an exciting battle between the fish and the angler in which sometimes the angler will lose. The result is a period spent in a way that, to put it simply, is the best stress buster going. And that’s great for those who have returned from Ops.”

‘Fishing for Forces’ aims to bring together fishing locations around the UK with sponsors, trainers and equipment suppliers to enable soldiers, fit and injured, to enjoy fishing at a location near to where they are based.

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