The Wellingborough & District Nene 2021 coaching season
My name is Pat Byrne and I am lead level 2 coach the Wellingborough & District Nene angling club. We are one of the oldest clubs in the land, having been formed in 1868. Together with coach Bryan Dray, known by some as the ‘hairy bikers’, we run the angling development team comprising of six qualified licensed coaches. Back in December 2020, the club’s work around health and wellbeing was recognised when we won the Angling Times prestigious club of the year award.
Our Let's Fish! involvement
For the past four years, we have been a partner club in the Canal & River Trust Let's Fish! program. Over this time, we have delivered well over 150 free introductory sessions events with 30 minute or more recently 60 minute long slots. On top of that, we have held numerous longer coaching sessions to progress children (and a good few adults for good measure) to become independent anglers with that all important fishing habit.
We have found this approach adopted by Let's Fish! to be very successful and over that period the club junior membership has increased dramatically from just 30 juniors when we took over to 270 in 2020 and over 350 in 2021. This increase in junior membership uptake has also helped our adult membership grow, something we had not necessarily expected. What we have found is that as mums, dads and grandparents who accompany youngsters to Let's Fish are also wanting to take up the sport and subsequently take up memberships so they can go fishing with the children or relatives as a family group.
Building Bridges & Nenescape
I would like to thank the Building Bridges team for giving Bryan, Ian Halliwell and I the opportunity to become qualified, licensed coaches in the first place. Without their initial support we would not be where we are now. My only regret is not having been given this opportunity 30 years ago. We were also thankful to be a part of the Nenescape partnership who have provided funding and support to us and the Let's Fish programme. In 2021, they were fundamental in getting the Percy the Perch Badges made for us to use as rewards and training aids for all participants that could identify a perch and tell Bryan three things about it. We have just had it confirmed that Nenescape will be funding a further tranche of Let's Fish events in 2022.
Upgrading our facilities
A significant positive development is that our premier canal venue Foxton locks has had a face lift. We now have several large new platforms installed that can accommodate two anglers and coaching kit. We are taking full advantage of them on our Let's Fish events they are so much better and even safer than the natural banks we used previously.
Another highlight was developing a program of events targeting children who are home schooled. It was back in October 2020 when we were first approached by the team leader for the Northamptonshire Home Ed's, enquiring as to whether we could put on a midweek event for them. Thus Home Ed midweek sessions were born, and we have held an event on pretty much every Wednesday since then. By starting coaching at lunchtime during school term time, there are opportunities for those in school to attend in the early evening. We have developed a loyal following that support events regularly and thus we have been able to bring participants on at their own pace.
National Celebration of Young People and Fishing
One of the highlights of the Let's Fish year is the national celebration of young people and fishing. All the main Let's Fish delivery clubs are strongly represented these days. There is an exciting atmosphere and it really is a fantastic chance to catch up face to face with coaches from all over the UK. Pleasingly, we were able to put two teams of Home Ed's into this year's celebration of young anglers fishing in the schools competition.
Our all-girls team came first on the day. We would like to give them a shout out here but alas, due to safeguarding concerns we can't identify the individuals; but well done girls. More good news came our way recently with the selection of both Max Owen and Ella Preston to participate in the junior section and Freya Sullivan as the on standby reserve in the cadet section at the end of year team celebration.
Come on the fishes
As winter sets in we are putting on our thermals and getting a good supply of Pot Noodles in readiness for some cold weather coaching events. These allow participants to see how the fishing and fisheries change through the seasons and hopefully see a different side of angling. We know that angling is supposed be a quiet and relaxing pass time, the contemplative man's recreation, as Izaak Walton called it.
Should you ever attend one our events they are periodically somewhat louder than you would expect for we have commandeered the saying ‘COME ON THE FISHES!'. As one of the coaches shouts it out, you can hear the ripples all along the event. Maybe, just maybe this should be the way to start off the next National Celebration of Young People and Fishing.
Last Edited: 04 November 2021
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