A FAMOUS voluntary-run angling charity which has been engaging disadvantaged school children for 40 years fear they might not last much longer if their decline in numbers continues.
Angling Projects near Windsor, Berkshire, has seen tens of thousands of yougsters visit the centre over the past four years but the number of schools visiting has drastically dropped.
It became the first fishery to be honoured by the Queen after winning ‘The Queens Award For Voluntary Service’ and Les has received the MBE in 2008 for his work.
Now Les has issued a statement requesting no more tackle donations as they have far more than they can use already, and they need to actually give some away.
Les told Angler‘s Mail: “In the past we engaged with 70-80 schools around the country but cutbacks in school and local government budgets for services like recreation and summer play-schemes is stopping groups coming.
“We are at least 35 per cent down on previous years and we have to review what we are doing.
“We now have far more tackle than we can ever possibly get through at our current rate of usage, so we would like to give some of it away.”
Cuts reduce number of kids learning to fish
“It is a crying shame that youngsters are being deprived of the opportunity to learn to fish, but even though our service is free, there seems a lack of staff time and transport to bring youngsters here.
“As an example we have had in the past 10 to 12 groups from the London Borough of Westminster but all the play-scheme staff there have been made redundant and the service stopped.
“It is unfortunate that a lot of money is going into the pockets of salaried staff at places like the Angling Trust and for some grandiose projects when kids are being denied the opportunity to take advantage of a free voluntary run grassroots service like ours.”
Les continued: “Many schemes that claim to promote an interest in fishing only give a brief taster, and, unlike our service, there is no follow up to help them really engage, so its just about ticking numbers on boxes.
“I know of other projects around the country that have had to close and I actually despair about the future of angling unless we can really help young people to take up the sport.
“On a personal note I would like to thank all the caring anglers who have supported our project over the years.
“We have a group of army veterans using the fishery over the weekend and I will be giving them some carp tackle, but any school or youth organisation that can make use of equipment themselves, say to start a fishing club, is welcome to come to collect it,” he suggested.
Anyone group wishing to take advantage of the offer should contact Les by email on: email@example.com
CAUGHT A BIG FISH? Email photos and details exclusively to: firstname.lastname@example.org – you could star in the magazine and win great prizes.