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With the rest of the UK bathed in glorious autumn sunshine the team from the East Kent Branch of the Masonic Fishing Charity arrived at Longshaw Farm Fishery for the final event of the year only to be greeted with overcast skies and a chill wind!  This made the breakfast of bacon roll and tea or coffee even more welcome!  However, it wasn’t too long before the eagerly anticipated sunshine and blue skies appeared just in time for the arrival of our guests for the day.  On this occasion we played host to fourteen pupils, together with their teachers and carers, from the Bradstow School in Broadstairs and the Elms School in Dover.  Both schools having previously participated in our events.  The Bradstow School is a residential special school registered as a children’s home and maintained by the London Borough of Wandsworth catering for children and young people with severe intellectual disabilities on the autistic spectrum.  The Elms School caters for the needs of pupils with learning difficulties and associated social, emotional, mental health and social communication difficulties.

     The casters having already received their customary briefing it only remained for the participants to receive their briefing and kitted out with their hats, glasses, water and wipes.  They were then paired with their casters for the day and made a bee-line for the lakeside.  Unfortunately, on this occasion there were insufficient casters to go around and other members of the team (all experienced fishermen, of course!) had to step into the supervisory role!  Previous visits to Longshaw had seen excellent catches of a good variety of fish so it came as a bit of a surprise to the casters when the fishing session got off to a slow start.  This could have been caused by the drop in temperature the previous night.  Although a number of smaller fish were caught, thereby maintaining the participants interest, the larger carp remained elusive.  Always eagerly anticipated by the anglers, young and old, an early lunch intervened.  However, during the break for lunch, the sun continued to warm the surface of the water and, on resumption of the fishing, the larger fish started to appear – much to the relief of the casters – increasing the excitement of the young anglers!    

Earlier in the day, David Alexander, Assistant Provincial Grand Master, (pictured below) had arrived and spent time around the lake talking to the pupils, their carers and the casters.  David has been a great supporter of the Masonic Fishing Charity, and the East Kent Branch in particular, having been involved since its inception and a frequent visitor to its events!  At the end of the day he presented each of the pupils with their certificates of merit as a memento of the day.  Addressing the pupils and their teachers and carers, in particular, he said that as Freemasons we were proud of what we did in the community and that this type of event was an example of the way in which we can, and do, make a difference.   Responding, the representatives of the schools thanked all the team for a wonderful day which had been thoroughly enjoyed by all and hoped that it might be possible to repeat the exercise again!  Turning to ‘the team’, David thanked all the organisers, helpers and casters for their dedication and hard work in contributing to the success of the events.

As at the last event, it was a pleasure to welcome again Peter Brooshooft, the Founding Chairman of the Branch, and looking very much in great health and at home in the surroundings!

 In conclusion, although not a great number of fish were caught (at least not as many as at Chart Fishery) it was evident from the smiles on the faces of the young, newly qualified, anglers that the event had been a great success.  However, I end with a plea that we could do with more supporters, especially, casters.  So if you know anyone who might be able to help – they do not necessarily need to be Freemasons – please encourage them to make contact.  I would be a great pity if we had to curtail the number of young people we can accommodate due to a shortage of , for example, casters! 

Michael Maguire
News and Media (and Caster)

David Alexander presents a certificate to one of the pupils.