Archive for July, 2022

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Norfolk is one of my favourite English counties. There’s something of a bygone era feel to it and a sense of serenity washes over me whenever I visit. I was invited along to see the work carried out by the John Wilson Fishing Enterprise at Shallowbrook Lakes near Norwich, along with my fellow Lifelines compiler Rod Sturdy, his wife Jennifer and good friends Graham and Sue Tibbs. Graham was an artwork contributor to the book.

On arrival we were warmly greeted by Lisa Wilson. For those that don’t know; Lisa is the daughter of Britain’s most famous angling TV presenter; the late, great John Wilson MBE. John was a natural presenter and exuded charisma, with a larger than life personality…. just what’s required for a successful TV show. This was borne out by its almost unrivalled popularity with viewers; including the non angling fraternity who just loved his approach and style. His show ran for 15 odd years on terrestrial television and he followed that with a successful career on Sky.

I met Lisa’s mum who was John’s first wife. Both Lisa and her mum chatted freely and openly about John, his family life and angling career. As a life long fan of John Wilson, I can only say how honoured I was to meet them both and to share in so many candid memories of the great man.

There were around 20 youngsters being briefed by Lisa on what the day would entail and a bit of history about her late father. They were soon fishing in groups, each one headed by a qualified coach. What become evident very quickly was just how much they were focused on the fishing. We witnessed genuine concentration and a willingness to learn.

I think it is fair to say that these are young people who have had a tough time and are trying to cope with their mental health issues. They attend schools specifically tailored to help them with their significant and complex needs. Some schools have now recognised that as part of the overall support and provision package provided, angling and nature can play an important role in their therapy.

It was very evident to us that the excellent work Lisa and her team provide, made an acute difference to those pupils attending. There were moments of joy, moments of laughter and it looked like a sense of belonging, something that can so often be missing in individual’s lives.

We had a wonderful day and felt privileged to be invited along to see first hand the great work being carried out by the JWFE team. We will endeavour to support this project as much as we can through the sales of our book ‘Lifelines’ and we truly hope the project goes from strength to strength.

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