Thirteen ladies who have, or have had, breast cancer enjoyed a unique experience at the weekend as they took part in a two-day residential therapy retreat – and learned how to fly fish.

Casting for Recovery UK & Ireland programme, a charitable project which is run by The Countryside Alliance Foundation, takes ladies profoundly affected by breast cancer and treats them to a course which includes counselling, medical advice and fly fishing tuition as part of a body and mind therapy which helps them move forward. The weekend’s retreat took place at the beautiful Mount Falcon Estate near Ballina in Co Mayo, a popular venue whose staff are all long-standing supporters of the project.

Local ladies from Co Mayo mingled with ladies from Dublin, Co Fermanagh, Co Cork, Co Galway and also a lady from Cambridge who flew over to receive some Irish hospitality.  The weekend featured a packed itinerary, including group counselling and relaxation sessions with our experienced counselling team, the latest medical advice on issues such as lymphodema, medication, fears of recurrence and issues surrounding body image and femininity. These emotional topics were interspersed with instruction in the gentle art of fly casting, which requires no strength and can be undertaken safely after surgery. The highlight of the weekend was a full morning’s guided fly fishing on the Mount Falcon lake, with local fishermen coming along to offer one-to-one support as the ladies tried to hook their first trout. With much whooping and hollering several participants did catch fish, helping to make the whole weekend memorable.

Our thanks to the volunteers who made the retreat such a success, especially Michelle who enjoyed the retreat so much as a participant that she came back as a volunteer too. The on-going support of previous participants shows how much the programme means and how much fun it is! In addition, our thanks to the team at the Mount Falcon Estate whose support and annual fundraising efforts ensure our annual retreat can take place.

Ladies who have, or have had, breast cancer, may like to register for a forthcoming retreat. We will be in Hampshire, Angus and Devon later in the year, so please look out for details online here.

NB retreats are provided at no cost to participants – all they need to do is get to the venue and all meals, accommodation, advice, tuition and fishing clothing is provided. Places on retreat are allocated by ballot and are subject to medical clearance. Ladies must be three months clear of surgery at the time of their retreat.