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  • Writer's pictureFishing for Schools

"To pass on the joy of fishing - what could be better than that?": Coach Q&A with Julie Wicks

Director of Fishing for Schools, Charles Jardine said: “Julie, without a shadow of doubt, is one of – if not the – most empathetic coaches we have. Not only does she understand areas that others simply cannot fathom, Julie has a way with fish and coaching that is indefinably unique.

Young people and those attending recent Castaway courses soon fall under the gentle ‘Wicks way’ of working, becoming enmeshed in her fishing and coaching spell and picking things up as fast as a whippet.

Perhaps it is a gentler way that she has? Or perhaps it is just the fact that Julie Wicks is a fine angler in any chosen discipline. And as with all our coaches, we at Fishing for Schools are so fortunate to have her with us, leading the way in the South West and, increasingly, South Wales.”

What do you do now - apart from Fishing for Schools, of course - and what else should we know about you?

I enjoy the world of catering and am currently working with the team at the Dove Inn, Corton in my native Wiltshire; a country pub near Warminster that offers me a perfect counterpoint to the coaching that I do with Fishing for Schools. I love being around food – preparing it and of course… eating it!

When did you start fishing?

I first started fishing when I was eight years old – again in my native Wiltshire. I began fishing on the river Wylie when I was little, “drowning worms” as most do that age, but soon started to enter the world of fly fishing which was an instant attraction and fascination. And it still is.

What inspired you to start fishing?

When my father came out of the Army, we moved to a beautiful house on the river Wylye. The river completely fascinated me, and I still live in the house on the river and am still fascinated with the life that is all about me… I mean where else could you feed a trout from your sitting room window.

No, I don’t catch those, but it is lovely to have the whole watery world around me, up close and personal.

What made, or rather inspired, you to continue fishing?

The enjoyment and mental release of fishing has often kept me going through some very difficult times in my life. I deeply believe fishing is therapeutic. It’s not a remedy for everything – just most of them!

What notable achievement have you made in fishing?

Becoming an instructor and teaching kids. That is perhaps the pinnacle, but I have to say catching bigger trout than my partner Lee (on many occasions!) is up there!

What made you want to become a coach?

Simply, to pass on the joy of fishing to others. What could be better than that? Passing on ones love of a sport to a comparative stranger and then watching them embrace the thing that you love. What a thrill!

When did you join Fishing for Schools, and why?

I joined the team about 12 years ago when I undertook both my Level 1 and Level 2 coaching certificates. At the same time as undertaking my qualifications, the Director asked both Lee and I to help in the South West. Once qualified, I just clicked with coaching the kids and wanted to get involved in all aspects – even the cookery.

What has given you the most pleasure working with Fishing for Schools?

I have loved watching kids get ‘bitten’ by the fishing bug. You can tell when they get hooked. That, for me, is the greatest endorsement for what we, what I, do; passing everything one knows on to others.

What is your main aim for a Fishing for Schools session?

For the kids to enjoy every minute of it, away from their phones and computers, and bring them from their world to another. I try, wherever possible, to bring a little of my life into theirs and hope that it sticks. That might be an underwater survey, it might be as simple as baiting a hook. I know girls and live things… but if you are one yourself it isn’t so difficult to show and get a student to do it!

How do you personally measure a successful session?

Lots of questions and laughing students and a good rapport with the teaching staff. Feedback is essential and central to what we do. Having comments long after a session proves that the seed planted during our time at that school or facility, has both germinated and grown.

What is your funniest moment with Fishing for Schools?

Watching Lee (another Fishing for Schools coach) quite often getting wet!

What should other people know about Fishing for Schools?

I can see the potential of the programme to change the direction of the children's lives. The role that we play in helping the students to grow from a mental standpoint, with increased knowledge, and the ability to offer respite in their sometimes-turbulent lives; it’s all there.

What is the future for Fishing for Schools?

Hopefully it will just keep growing and making a difference as I know it has in the past. A simple aim, but one that is realistic and deliverable.

Why should people who are both anglers and non-anglers get behind Fishing for Schools?

It makes a real difference to children's lives, opening opportunities in so many areas, be that in education, personal effectiveness, or just a little quiet and gentleness. We coaches believe in its ability to change lives for the better and to allow young people an insight into worlds that they never imagined.

Where do you see Fishing for Schools in five years’ time?

Bigger and better. Simply that… and I want to be there.

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