MARSH PRATLEY, owner of one of the UK’s best day ticket carp fisheries and a prolific charity fundraiser, has been diagnosed with terminal cancer.
Marsh Pratley, who owns Oxfordshire’s fantastic Orchid Lakes, is determined that both the fishery and his charitable work will continue.
Marsh was a co-founder of the charity Anglers Against Cancer, has already raised £250,000 in four years. It donates to Children With Cancer UK.
Prior to acquiring Orchid in 1995, Marsh was one of the leading all round specimen anglers.
He also holds the unique distinction of being general secretary of the National Association of Specimen Anglers and chairman of the Carp Society.
He was also an Angler’s Mail magazine columnist as well as sitting the British Record Fish Committee. He even won the all round British Casting Champion title in 2001.
Orchid manager James ‘Sibbo’ Simpson explained: “We are open for business as usual despite Marsh’s illness, and he has assured everyone that Orchid Lakes will continue its legacy although there are still some legalities to sort out.
“Since I have worked here its been evident also how much effort and energy the team put into the fundraising work.
“Marsh has auctioned all his old tackle and angling artefacts, for over £3,000 more for the charity.
“Their target for this year is to raise a further £51,355 with the main event here starting September 20,” he concluded.
Marsh Pratley – “Cancer team were brilliant”
Marsh Pratley has only felt ill for a while and the cancer diagnosis came out of the blue.
Despite the terminal nature of the illness the former Royal Marine has approached the situation with customary good humour.
Marsh himself explained: “For the first four weeks I was being treated for a chest infection.
“My lack of being able to breathe meant I had to call out the ambulance ten times.
“Every x-ray showed the lungs were clear… so ‘hey ho’ we all thought it was me having panic attacks.
“It was purely by chance the doc said he’d do a quick CT scan to make sure there was no blood clot on the lung.
“Within an hour he came searching for me whilst I was waiting at the hospital pharmacy and asked if he could have a word.
“I said to him it’s not good news is it and he was totally honest. There was a massive tumour, and the cancer had spread throughout the body.
“When he told me that my first thought was that I needn’t buy a Christmas tree, just turn off the lights and I’d have my own internal lighting.
“Once we knew the extent of the problems all of the options were discussed, chemo would probably give me a few more weeks but it would depend on how my body reacted and my quality of life.
“A lot of my friends have said how well I’m looking then I remember Spike Milligan’s inscription on his headstone – ‘I told them I was ill’.
“The cancer team were brilliant and pulled no punches. At best I’ve got a few weeks. You have to play the cards your dealt and I’ve been a lot luckier than most so I can’t complain.
“Although I haven’t given in, I have to set in place certain things to lessen the burden on my sister and two children for the inevitable, especially as my daughter is pregnant with her first child in July.
“As and when my time arrives Sibbo will make an announcement on my Facebook page and it would be lovely to pack the church in the village followed by one of our legendary Orchid socials.
“Orchid along was originally stocked with the Leney strain of carp and even to this day I’ve never stocked the lake even when I was offered seven fish all over the then British record some 23 years ago.
“If I’d been an out and out business man I knew I could have filled every swim every day of the week.
“The point is that that strain of fish is something special and means more to me than money,” Marsh concluded.
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