Masonic Fishing Charity, 
Old Venue & Old Friends

     With their tackle barely dry from the visit to Monk Lakes the team from the East Kent Branch of the Masonic Fishing Charity descended again upon Chart Fisheries for the second event of 2019.  Many had remembered that the event last year was in doubt due to the serious motorcycle accident of the bailiff, Adrian, and the consequent closure of the fishery.  We were extremely grateful to the fishery owners for their faith in us in allowing the event to take place.  It was, therefore, pleasing to see that Adrian was back in the fold but saddening to see that he had not fully recovered from his accident and, a year on, still had mobility problems.

     The visit to Chart is probably the clear favourite amongst the casters as, no matter what the weather, good catches are virtually guaranteed.  This visit was no exception!  Before our guests had arrived it was clear that the fish were going to play their part in the success of the day!  As the casters were setting up their tackle the carp, probably sensing the footfall of the anglers, started to crowd the swims in anticipation of the ‘feast’ which was about to be delivered to their hungry mouths eagerly sucking at the surface!

Our guests on this occasion were 10 students and three teachers from Bower Grove School, Maidstone and 7 pupils and two teachers from Meadowfield School, Sittingbourne.  Both schools had attended previous events and there were some familiar faces amongst the staff!  The Bower Grove School is a foundation special school for pupils with learning difficulties and associated social, emotional and mental health needs, autism spectrum conditions and social communication difficulties.  The Meadowfield School caters for pupils with profound, severe and complex needs including autism needs covering communication and interaction, cognitive and learning difficulties, social, emotional and mental health issues.  Arriving separately, both schools were welcomed and the students briefed on safety, assigned to casters and proceeded to the lake to start fishing.  The students had clearly been briefed on what to expect from the day as, from the time of their arrival, they had great difficulty in containing their excitement!

As mentioned earlier, and as expected, the fish played their part and from the very first cast the cries of excitement and triumph could be heard echoing around the lake!  It was clear from the outset that many fish would be caught.  To the serious angler the Match Lake (our venue for the day) does not present too much of a challenge other than how many fish can be caught and how quickly, but to the students, particularly those fishing for the first time, it was an experience never to be forgotten!  Everyone caught fish and there were many up to and around 10lb.  Despite the numbers of fish in the lake they are in excellent condition and, mainly being caught close to the bank, arrived in the landing nets full of energy and in a very lively condition!  This, undoubtedly, contributed to the reluctance of the students to be photographed holding their conquests!

     As part of their ‘briefing’ the students were informed of the BBQ lunch which was greeted with almost as much enthusiasm as the fishing itself!  At the appropriate hour the pupils were summoned to lunch (by air horn) by our Provincial Grand Master, RWBro Neil Johnstone, who had joined us during the morning.  During the post-lunch fishing session he spent time around the lake talking to the casters and their charges.  At the end of the session, in his own inimitable style, the PGM thanked the dedication of the team of organisers, helpers and casters for making the event such a success and apologised to the teachers for having to abandon their classrooms to suffer the glorious weather and idyllic surroundings of this countryside venue!!  He then presented each student with a commemorative medal and certificate of achievement.  The teachers reciprocated with their thanks to all the organisers and helpers for the great day and making it so enjoyable for their students.  The students then, spontaneously, circulated and shook the hands of all the casters with their personal thanks!

 As an added bonus, it was particularly pleasing for all members of the team to welcome to the event VWBro Peter Brooshooft, the Founding Chairman of the Branch, following his recent and protracted illness.  We again also had the pleasure of the company of David Alexander, Assistant Provincial Grand master, a long-term supporter of the MFC.

     In conclusion, I would like to quote the words of our current Chairman, John Baker “Everything combined to make it one of the best events we have staged so far, as evidenced by the enjoyment on the faces of the young people and staff who attended.”

 

Michael Maguire, News and Media

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