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  • Writer's pictureFishing for Schools

Q&A with Brian Bailey, Commercial Fisheries Manager at Hadlow College

Brian Bailey, Commercial Fisheries Manager at Hadlow College, explains why he lends his support to Fishing for Schools.

“In describing Brian to an audience outside of Fishing for Schools, Kent even, is tricky. Simply put, without Brian and the support of Hadlow College we would not be the success in Kent that we most certainly are. His enthusiasm and unstinting support for the initiative is the engine room and launch pad for many of our activities. We owe him a huge amount and Brian is also one of the MOST enthusiastic people you will ever meet. Brian rocks!” - Charles Jardine, Director of Fishing for Schools.

Brian, how would you describe your current role at Hadlow College?

My current role sees me running the college’s hatchery where we keep over 50 tanks of exotics and breed fish species such as carp, koi, tilapia and African walking Catfish. I run Grove Farm Fishery – the college’s fishery and fish farm. I also conduct many fish surveys during the winter months in lakes, rivers, canals... basically most water bodies. The other part of my role is attending events to promote the college, the land-based sector and careers in these areas.

Is this area of education something you have always done? Or did you come to the position from a different career path entirely?

I changed career in my thirties and went back to college (Hadlow) and completed my degree in Fisheries Management & Aquaculture. Once I graduated, the college employed me and that was 15 years ago! I wanted to study fisheries when I left school but these courses did not exist (many, many years ago!) but I got there in the end. What attracted me to work in education is seeing the effect you have on people’s lives and the positive influence you have on them. I get the most pleasure in working in my role and Fishing for Schools just by seeing young people ‘getting it’ about working and being outdoors.

What inspires you to work with young people in aquaculture and what is your greatest success in this area?

I feel I have had been very fortunate and have been able to influence some people with their careers. Some successes may seem small but for the individual they can be huge. It could be building someone’s confidence to do things they thought impossible. I am a true believer in education and the positive effect it has on everyone. I have had some students who didn’t do well at school but stayed with college and worked really hard and left with a degree. Two of those students are now working for the EA and the Government. My ethos is to get my students to their full potential then either into industry or higher education.

What impact has Fishing for Schools had on your college?

The college’s relationship with Fishing for Schools has been wonderfully positive. From working with young people who have never been fishing or even out to the countryside, through to showing them around the college and them coming to college. I see the future of our relationship growing together. We both want to inspire the next generation of young people and I truly believe that together, we can. Working with the excellent coaches at Fishing for Schools we have got some young people into college and out into industry.

One of our success stories is James who came to the fishery through Fishing for Schools. I showed him round and after school he came to us, studied hard, completed his BSc and is now running an offshore salmon farm in Scotland! I get the most pleasure in working in my role and Fishing for Schools just by seeing young people ‘getting it’ about working and being outdoors. I am always amazed about the positive effect fishing and the outdoors has on people of all ages.

What has given you the most pleasure in your role (and working with Fishing for Schools!) and what has been the funniest moment so far?

I have had many funny, heart-breaking and bizarre moments in my career – too many to mention here. Recently, my best experience has been looking after a four-year old alligator for a few weeks. Alligators can be trained (I didn’t know that either!) and she was the sweetest thing, completely changed my opinion on members of the crocodilian family!

How do you see the future of angling in the UK?

What do I see in the future of angling in the UK? That’s a tough question... I think it will continue to grow as a sport. Everyone realises the benefits of being outside, not just for mental health but social and physical wellbeing too. I am hoping the condition of our water ways will continue to improve thanks to all the outstanding work being done by individuals and groups. I want to see more work to increase numbers and passage of many fish species that are in decline. I want to see more work for species such as trout, salmon, eels, the lampreys, crucian carp and bullheads. We have enough carp already.

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