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Who was the first person of colour to participate in the national angling championships?

The angling representative on the London & South East partnership board, Dick Pilkinton has been playing a significant behind-the-scenes role around our work for October's Black History Month.

Let's Fish! coach Suzie Galloway being interviewed on the bank

It was Dick's school pal, Paul, now Lord Boateng, who was the keynote speaker at the launch event held at the Museum of London Docklands. Lord Boateng was the first person of colour to be appointed as a cabinet minister back in the first Tony Blair administration in 1997. It was inevitable that when I caught up with Dick, the conversation should turn to fishing and to the question as to who might have been the first participant of colour in the national angling championships.

Making enquiries

The obvious route to secure the answer was a quick email to the fountain of all national knowledge, former likely lad John Essex. Unusually for John, it was something that he could not immediately answer.

Moreover, he could not, off the top of his head, recall any people of colour that had participated in the nationals he had personally competed in. Bridgnorth stalwart Brian Preece was my next port of call, and this led to a potentially promising lead. He recalled a guy fishing open contests in the 1970s by the name of Dick Sejud.

Brian thought it was possible that he could have represented Whitmore Reans in a national championship at some stage. Brian also suggested that the recent octogenarian Joe Brennan might know more. Joe also recalled coming across Dick Sejud on the open circuit but was uncertain about the possibility of national selection.

Canal legend Paul Turner was the next port of call. Paul recalled that Dick lived in or around Walsall, had almost certainly never represented Whitmore Reans but had a strong inkling that he could have represented the Provincial Anglers Association at some stage in the 1970's. Armed with this useful knowledge, it was back to the national maestro himself.

1976 Program

Records revealed

Within a couple of hours, John had confirmed that a D Sejud was in the Provincial AA team for the Division Two National held on the Witham Saturday October 16, 1976. The team finished in 49th place with 422 points. Total team fishing 76 and Izaak Walton Preston won with 763 points .

In the winning team was Dave Roper who was later to win the World Champs in 1985 in Dick Clegg's first year as manager. Dick Sejud later went on to participate in 1978 on the River Trent when he landed the top weight in the team with 8-11-8 and was top team finisher with 76 points out of 80 fishing from peg H70.

Individually he finished in a brilliant sixth place winning an NFA silver medallion. Provincial AA finished in 25th position with 18-3-12 and 530 points that year. Team winners on the day were Notts AA with 806 points. Of course, we can't rule out the possibility that there could have been an earlier BAME national participant.

1976 Program

In December 2022 the Simple Match Fishing Facebook page content confirmed that Dick Segud was fishing at the top level into the 1980s. Indeed, he won a big open on the River Severn at Shrewsbury in 1983.

Dick Sejud

The first woman of colour to nationally participate

It's well over 80 years since Mrs Bert Barnes (Newark Piscatorials) and Miss Carter (CALPAC) became the first two pioneering females to participate in the national championships. North Staffordshire's Mrs Poole fished two nationals on the bounce before the outbreak of the World War Two.

If Mrs Poole was alive today, she would doubtless be proud of Angelina Bengry's contribution to the Stoke-on-Trent Angling Society's cadet team victory at the 2021 National Celebration of Young People and Fishing. And the amazing results of the girls in the cadets section of the 2022 celebration event. Best we can tell, it was not until 2021 on the Gloucester & Sharpness Canal that the first woman of colour fished in a full national.

Unless you know any differently, that place in the history books belongs to the Northampton based Let's Fish coach, the one and only Suzie Galloway who represented the Let's Fish Coaches Yellow Team.

Captained by Dennis Hunt, it's not the first time this Let's Fish coaches team appear in the record books. For the oldest angler ever to fish a national, 89-year-old Donald Peirson lined up for them in the 2019 Division 2 National on the Shropshire Union.

Sue Galloway

Last Edited: 29 September 2023

photo of a location on the canals
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