We have had a busy year at Casting for Recovery UK & Ireland (CfR) – holding six retreats, at venues old and new. This brings our total to 48 retreats delivered since we launched.

We are extremely grateful to the fly-fishing and medical volunteers who take time to ensure that the ladies enjoy their weekend and would also like to thank all the venues for their fantastic hospitality. But most of all we are grateful to the ladies for choosing to take a chance and apply for the programme. We hope you all enjoyed it and look forward to welcoming new friends to CfR in 2019.

The first retreat of 2018 (20-22 April) took place at The Coniston Hotel Spa and Country Estate, Skipton, North Yorkshire with 14 ladies from across the UK taking part. We offer two-day residential retreats where fly fishing tuition is part of a packed itinerary that also includes counselling, relaxation and medical advice.

At Coniston, for the first time we introduced fly tying into the programme and the ladies made two flies from artificial materials and some of them used the flies to fish with on the Sunday. This new element of the retreat is all thanks to Keith Passant who did some crowdfunding on Facebook which enabled us to purchase all the necessary tools needed for this session.

Then we were delighted to return to Wales over the weekend of 11-13 May after a five-year break. Twelve ladies from across the country attended the retreat at the beautiful Garnffrwd Fishery in Carmarthenshire. Jamie Miller from Garnffrwd Fishery was extremely generous and provided home-made cakes during the coffee breaks as well as the fishing itself. A special thanks must also go to the volunteers from the Welsh Bank Team and the Welsh Ladies National Fly-fishing team who provided one to one guiding.

We held our first ever retreat at Brick Farm Lakes and the Cooden Beach Hotel at Bexhill in East Sussex from 15-17 June with 12  ladies attending. Annie Latter from Brick Farm Lakes made everyone feel extremely welcome and the Cooden Beach Hotel was on the sea front which meant many of the ladies could enjoy therapeutic walks along the coastline.

Our 46th retreat saw us return to Kimbridge on the Test for the tenth time, from 20-22 July. Our patron, Clay Brendish toasted this milestone with a glass of fizz at the graduation on Sunday. The weather was glorious and a little too hot at times but it didn’t stop the 11 ladies from all managing to hook a trout which is a fantastic achievement considering most had never been fly-fishing before. A special thanks also goes to Orvis who supported the event with a donation of £2,000 towards the catering costs for the weekend.

We then returned to old friends at the Forbes of Kingennie Country Resort, near Dundee, from 21-23 September, for our eighth at the venue. We had brilliant weather, despite us following in the wake of hurricanes from across the Atlantic. Twelve ladies attended from as far north as Inverness down to the south coast of England and to Northern Ireland and everywhere in between. All the ladies caught fish and there was much excitement and laughter around the lakes over the weekend.

Our final retreat of 2018 was at the Mount Falcon Estate in Ballina, Co Mayo, Ireland from 19-21 October. The weather could not have been kinder, with hardly any wind and temperatures of around 14 degrees – perfect for our retreat schedule – and all the ladies caught fish, a few taking them home to enjoy with their families.

CfR aso garnered some great publicity over the year – featuring on BBC Northern Ireland’s Home Ground programme on 5 May and on BBC Radio 4’s Farming Today preogramme on 27 August.

And we benefited from some generous fundraising at the Blossom & Rose Drinks Party – a floral themed cocktail party at The Chelsea Gardener on 23 May which raised just over £36,500. The Mount Falcon Hotel presented Casting for Recovery UK & Ireland with a cheque for €1,655 which was from a fundraising afternoon tea event held there last December. And two brave ladies, who met on the Casting for Recovery UK & Ireland Welsh retreat in May 2018, have raised more than £1,600 for the charity with a sponsored abseil from the keep of Pembroke Castle on 21 October and a raffle. Massive thanks are due to them all.