Crikey! What a month it has been since the last time I put fingers to a keyboard.
Firstly, my huge (and I do mean massive) thanks, gratitude and respect to our London Marathon team, who not only sacrificed hours of their time in training, but put trainer to road surface on the actual day and in doing so, raised over £11,000 for The Countryside Alliance Foundation.
I really do know first-hand the aches, pains and the effort. So, to Lottie, Jake, Olly, Penny, and Richard… thank you.
As many of you know, we now enter our busiest period. Not just with Fishing for Schools, but the growing sister initiative, Castaway. On 11 June at the magnificent Sportfish centre in Theale, we will be holding our first ever targeted event dedicated to a specific type of cancer which on this occasion, will be for those who have overcome the trauma of prostate cancer treatments. I know first hand how devastating this cancer can be. It is an assault to so many aspects of masculinity. Angling, combined with other attendant elements, might just provide the much-needed breathing space and quiet contemplation to embrace the future.
We profoundly thank Farlows and Sportfish for their support and media help for both of The Countryside Alliance Foundation's initiatives – especially Castaway.
Many of you will have noticed our rather special giveaway that we have promoted on social media. The vital link between the fishing industry and TCAF is crucial.
In The Tackle Box we have a special relationship that has enabled, through their amazing generosity, funding for schools, support, help for your fishers and a raft of other truly meaningful elements that help both the fishing community and what we are trying to achieve with Fishing for Schools.
What we certainly don’t do is to take the kindness displayed by The Tackle Box for granted. To say that this company is our leading specimen and carp store, is an understatement. From their small store in Sutton at Hone years ago to the now larger operation on the outskirts of Dartford, the Peet Brothers, Gary and Kevin, have created a juggernaut of equipment and service that is both unrivalled and brought together and sold with all the experience of years in the business. They have a deep understanding of both tackle trends and the actual anglers they deliver to. It really is an amazing store.
Finally, two more important things:
Marathon Casting Challenge taking place on 21 June: It's my turn to get cracking (with my dear old chum Pete Cockwill) and put my old frame on the line for TCAF with our joint challenge to fly cast the 26-plus miles that constitutes a marathon. Mad? Just a little…
We will be doing this at Syon Park, the fabulous London stately home of the Duke of Northumberland, on 21 June. It will be gruelling and we think that it will take us 10 hours of continuous casting. I am back training to be fitter than I have ever been, all for Fishing for Schools and Castaway. Pete’s commitment is unswerving and we can get this done…with you support.
And finally, I am just happy to be able to fish and enjoy what I have. I have returned from a few days holiday in Africa. It was my first time and I feel that I have changed as a result. I thought that I had seen poverty; I haven’t. The sites I saw during my time away challenged everything and yet, the people were happy, the children laughed and went on with life as they knew it. It was humbling.
Sensations and sights that will never leave me.
Sometimes we must consider, when set against others in the world, just how fortunate we are. Yet even here in the UK, poverty and social degradation can rear up, haunting us and blighting young people. That is why Fishing for Schools is so important and allows young active minds to engage, think, go out of their collective comfort zone, and be inspired by the great outdoors.