by Charlotte Cooper

Introducing the fishing experts who have taken F4S out to more than 110 schools since 2007. Kevin Durman of the Kent team explains how and why he got involved

Kev Durman is one of the instructors who make up the Fishing for Schools team in Kent.

How long have you been fishing and how did you get into the sport?

I started near on 40 years ago on my local River Stour, free-lining a bit of bacon down the river that I'd pinched out of my mum's fridge. The trick was to bounce the bait over a paving slab that had been chucked in, to where you could guarantee a hungry eel would come out from underneath and take the bait.

My angling soon moved on to the point where as a boy I spent so much time in the local tackle shop, Greenfields of Canterbury, that they offered me a job. It was here in fact, some 35 years ago that I first met one Charles Jardine [director and founder of F4S]. Charles would come in on a Saturday giving fly tying demonstrations.

My time off was spent on the big gravel pits Kent has in abundance, in pursuit of carp in the summer, with the occasional bream session and pike in the winter with a few days on the river trotting for roach.

At the age of 20, a wander past the Armed Forces recruitment office had me looking through the window, I made the decision to serve my country and joined the Royal Navy, serving in the Submarine Service. With time off for angling limited to just odd days I turned to match fishing, representing the RN in a number of events.

On leaving the forces I continued with the match fishing, reaching a good standard - at one point fishing for Preston Innovations Delcac. I have three National medals for section wins and top 10 finishes, a National bronze team medal as well as numerous Kent League wins and also managed to win the 100 peg Kent Championships held on the Royal Military Canal.  

What sort of fishing do you enjoy the most?

A change in job to a four-day week gave me an opportunity to make a change in my angling again, this time to specimen angling. I put the skills learnt as a matchman to good use as a carp angler, concentrating on accuracy, feeding and presentation. For the past several years I have spent my time in the pursuit of all the other specimen fish that live in the big gravel pits I fish, I also spend a bit of time on my local rivers and canal. Occasionally I get called out of my match fishing retirement to help out an old team.

Are you involved in any other fishing-related groups or activities?

I am involved with the Tenchfishers group as membership secretary and I act as a bailiff on a number of the waters I fish.

How did you get involved in Fishing for Schools and what part do you play in the initiative?

I am an Angling Trust Level 2 licensed coach and spend a number of days doing one-on-one tutorials, a natural progression from knowing Charles was to get involved in the Fishing for Schools program where I regularly work with a number of local schools, mostly with pupils that have behavioural difficulties. 

Why do you think F4S is important?

I have had the need for this work bought home me on so many occasions.  A typical example being given a particularly troubled young man to work with.  He listened intently, did everything I asked, chatted to me wanting advice and ended up catching a load of fish.  The school head later told me he was amazed at what the power of angling can bring as the boy never listens, never does what he is told, is very quiet and is generally uninterested. 

I also believe that there are times when the pupils lives are so noisy and chaotic that the peace and quite of a fishing session can bring massive benefits to a child’s mindfulness.  I normally put pupils in pairs when fishing, this gives them a chance to bounce ideas off each other or perhaps I’ll put one of the better anglers with a newbie to help net or unhook fish.  On a recent coaching session one of the pupils asked if he could fish a free corner swim on his own, when I asked why he said “I could do with a bit of me time”.  So on this occasion I gave him exactly that and watched from a distance and helped when called upon.    

It’s particularly gratifying knowing many of the pupils I have taught the art of angling too have gone on to regularly fish in their own time outside of school. Mission accomplished!

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