Twenty-four young anglers from across the UK were recognised at the House of Commons last week (15 November) in the Fishing for Schools Champions Awards – and MP for North Dorset Simon Hoare was on hand to congratulate Thomas Mullane from Yewstock College and Toby Dear from Yewstock School, which are both in Sturminster Newton in his constituency.
Fishing for Schools is an initiative run by The Countryside Alliance Foundation, the charitable arm of the Countryside Alliance. It provides short angling courses at schools across the country, to aid the education of 12 to 18-year-olds who may not respond to traditional classroom-based learning but flourish when you get them outside onto the water. It celebrates its tenth anniversary this year.
Many of the youngsters who fish through Fishing for Schools have physical, learning or behavioural difficulties which mean they are not always in mainstream education. Each school was asked to nominate one child whom they thought had achieved the most through the course to be their champion and it is these youngsters who were commended at the reception on Wednesday.
Thomas Mullane was nominated by his teacher Tom Maher, who said: “Thomas has been attending Fishing for Schools for the past two years. Within this period of time we have seen noticeable changes in his ability to concentrate and work as a team member. His ability to sit independently and concentrate on his rod for over an hour has been an amazing achievement and demonstrates clearly, how much he enjoys fishing and being by the water. Thomas has also shown leadership skills in supporting his peers to land fish, bait hooks and release fish back into the water safely. This recognises how much Thomas has grown in confidence and his ability to communicate effectively in this environment. We are proud of his achievements and feel he completely deserves this award and recognition.”
And Toby Dear was nominated by teacher Kevin Viney, who said: “Toby has struggled for years to stay on task and see things through because he finds doing many things we all take for granted relatively difficult. This is why he attends a school for children with special educational needs.
“Over the past two years we have been encouraging Toby to become more independent, determined and resilient in the face of difficulties and adversity.
“On the Fishing for Schools days this past summer Toby applied himself brilliantly to what he was being asked to do and showed patience, tolerance and determination to make the time really count while he was fishing. He ignored other pupils struggling to stay on task and kept his focus throughout the time we had available. He was a great credit to himself, to his family and to Yewstock School. A true Champion - well done Toby.”
Simon Hoare MP said: “I was delighted to attend the Fishing for Schools Champions Awards and meet Thomas and Toby. They and the other young champions recognised through the awards are truly inspirational. I thoroughly support the aims of Fishing for Schools.”
Fishing for Schools director Charles Jardine added: “These students are a tremendous example of what is achieved through Fishing for Schools. Many of them have had challenging school careers but fishing is a sport without barriers and seems to have struck a chord with these students, offering something they can achieve and benefit from and teaching all manner of life skills along the way. I congratulate them all.”