FISH 2013, cleverly an acronym for Fishing In Safe Hands, was set up in October 2013 by head coach John Anderson, Jez King, John Harper, Simon Cole, Peter Valentine, and its oldest member, 82-year-old Gerald Sargent, and, its youngest, 13-year-old Lewis Anderson.
Based in Burton it now has a group of dedicated helpers who give their time up for the club each week both in coaching and through social media, attracting new members, and giving them a platform to further advertise the club, as FISH2013 relies solely on grants and sponsorship.
To help push its name, FISH 2013 boasts Burton MP Andrew Griffiths as its patron and even helped him catch his first fish.
Its Facebook group is updated regularly, usually featuring a lot of smiling children and adults showing off their latest catches, but how many actually come along to its outdoor meetings?
John, the head coach, said: “Our numbers vary greatly from week to week. They mostly all come from the local area. Most of the young people come with a parent, some come in groups. It all comes together once the parents start to get hooked too. The atmosphere at our sessions is one of fun. We promote fishing as fun.
”We run some one-hour matches, which the participants love. They are not the most serious of matches but can get very competitive at times. We are now considering expanding into more serious junior matches. John Harper is a serious matchman and would love to start training young people in the finer points of match fishing.”
So who comes along?
“We have links with local schools and social services,” says John, “We also run a weekly after school club on a Wednesday. The participants vary in ability from beginners to independent and ages from four to 18. We try to get the whole family fishing together if we can. Many of our families then have fishing trips together once they can fish independently. They have started to send us pictures of their fishing adventures which is brilliant.
“We also do special days, for example we run full days, fly fishing on Blithfield Reservoir in the boats. Some of the local fishery owners have been very supportive towards us. The local tackle dealers also help us out with discounts and freebies.”
FISH 2013 seems to get support from outside companies, but how does it help its members?
John said: “Fishing gets the kids away from their computer games and out into the fresh air. It allows those that do not participate in mainstream sports to try an alternative. The feedback we get is all positive and a lot comes from people outside the angling community.”
Some members are even using the club to complete their Duke of Edinburgh awards.
As with many community groups, Facebook is the club’s ‘window for the outside world to see what we do’.
The group also has ambitions for its own website and is working towards The Angling Trust’s Clubmark, which sets out the standards for running a quality club. It also wants to build up members and even start trips for sea fishing.
So why should people join FISH 2013?
John said: “We are friendly, chilled out, happy, enjoyable, fun, and approachable. But we have a serious side too. Sometimes we get involved in helping young people with problems. The schools or Social Services can speak to me as club Child Welfare Officer. We have had some really serious success in this area.”