Head of Communications Jill Grieve writes: I had one of those "wow" conversations this morning. One of those ones that makes you really glad that you do the job you do, and makes you feel like you're on the right track.
I have been working with our angling guru, the legendary Charles Jardine, to pull together the Fishing for Schools course he runs for The Countryside Alliance Foundation, our charity. Charlie runs short angling courses for youngsters at schools across the country and the impact of these courses has been profound. Many of the 14-16 year olds who participate in the courses don't respond to traditional classroom-based learning, but flourish when you get them outside onto the water. And by flourish I mean they gain confidence, self-esteem and really start to focus on what they want to do. Some participants have various special educational needs, meaning angling can be used as a communication tool and can really bring these youngsters out of their shells.
Charlie and I are at present planning to bring all the schools together by organising a celebration reception at the Houses of Parliament for the scheme. We asked each school to nominate a "Champion" from the course - we've sent them each a medal and we are inviting them to come to London to tell politicians just what it means to them to go fishing, and to demonstrate how getting out of the classroom, far from being subversive and on the wrong side of the health and safety Police, can be enormously beneficial. We are lucky in that the All Party Parliamentary Group on Angling is sponsoring this event and is hugely supportive of what we are doing.
I digress. This "wow" moment came when I was on the phone to one of the teachers whose school runs Fishing for Schools with Charlie and the estimable Calder & Colne Valley Rivers Trust. He is keen to come to London and bring his Champion with him, keen to promote the programme and really celebrate what it has done for his charges. He seemed a little hesitant about something though, finally admitting that the Champion from his school will be petrified of the prospect of coming to London and will need lots of encouragement. He has never been out of his home county, never been on a train and would certainly never have thought about Parliament before now. This lad, who was the first on his course to catch a fish (which he never lets anyone forget) is now a proud Champion coming to London to represent his school in a real day of firsts. He has already come a long way, and angling did that. It's pretty "wow" isn't it?
If you know of a school which would like to run a Fishing for Schools course, get in touch - email@example.com