I had the great pleasure to attend a SAFE (Stoke Angling ForEveryone)Have A Go At Fishing’ event on Sunday to seethis marvellous scheme in action.

SAFE in action on Tunstall Park Lake

Tunstall Park Lake in Stoke on Trent was dotted all round withSAFE instructors showing kids how to fish and just lettingthem see what fun there is to be had from fishing. The ‘Have A GoAt Fishing‘ events are for all ages but this one just happened tobe populated with kids from age 6 to early teens.

It was great to walk round and see all the voluntary instructorsletting the kids have a go and showing them the right way to go aboutit, including the correct care and handling of the fish. It was allone-to-one tuition and as you would expect there were lots of tanglesand tackle disasters but it was a credit to the instructors whoshowed great patience and understanding.

SAFE instructor Andy Maskery and Calum

Instructor Andy Maskery took my own grandson Calum under his wingfor the near two hours I was there and Calum certainly enjoyed it andlearned enough to challenge me to a match the next time we fish. Ithink I’d better watch out! Andy, incidentally, has been asked to bethe Longton District Scouts Angling Co-ordinator.

Peter Fieldhouse is the Chairman of SAFE and DavidSloane-Bulger is Secretary. This is what David says aboutSAFE:

Stoke Angling For Everyone was started to provide a freeintroduction to the sport of angling by providing one to onecoaching. To make this possible the Environment Agency has donated 10sets of fishing tackle, which is used at any SAFE event. Localtackle dealers provide free bait and raffle prizes. This then enablesSAFE to run all events free of charge. The instructors providefurther coaching on their club’s waters. As an added incentive localtackle dealers have offered all participants attending SAFEevents, and then want to take up the sport, a 10 to 20 % discount onthe appropriate starter kits available, the discount is givenfollowing attending a SAFE event.

David Sloane-Bulger and Peter Fieldhouse

In our first year SAFE have held eight ‘Have A Go AtFishing’ events which has generated interest from 370 new andlapsed anglers in Stoke-on-Trent. SAFE is also currently partfunding 16 Angling Instructors who, through attending RodbastonCollege on August the 27th to 29th will commence an N.V.Q. basedcourse, which is headed by the National Federation of Anglers.We will then have 16 fully qualified angling coaches.

There are 12-angling clubs currently affiliated to SAFE,which represents approximately 7000 anglers. As part of theircommitment to the group each club agrees to hold a fishing event ontheir city council waters. There is no age limit at any of theevents. This to date has been very successful in attracting peopleinto the sport and has also increased junior club membership by 5%.

Tackle from the EA
The most outstanding example of this is one clubs affiliated toSAFE has increased its junior membership from 7 to 150 – not badfrom just one event. A number of clubs have also improved over 18’smembership. It has also seen an increase in the number of women anddisabled anglers coming into the sport.

As a group we have successfully applied for an Awards for Alllottery grant and were awarded £4885.00. These funds are to beused for the general running costs of the group along with thetraining of further instructors to meet the demand of new peoplecoming into the sport.

Fishing fun in SAFE hands

Most recently a local man by the name of Tony Costello did a24-hour fishing challenge. This in itself was quite unique as Tonyhas not been fishing before and was entered in to a” paycarecommunity challenge” run by our local evening newspaper. It initiallystarted where a friend of Tony’s challenged him to fish for 24 hours.Based on our overall aim SAFE arranged for this to take placeand to provide Tony with the necessary support. If Tony survived thechallenge he would clinch £2000 which would be awarded to acharity/community group(s) of his choice. Tony did survive and hasdonated £1000 to his children’s school and £1000 toSAFE.

I am pleased to say that Tony has now taken up angling as a hobby.SAFE wish to thank Tony for his donation, and the instructorshave renamed him coffee man as he drank gallons of it. Best wishesTony and thanks.

Young ladies as well as young men enjoy fishing

The SAFE instructors recently held a 24-hour fishingmarathon in conjunction with the above challenge to raise much-neededfunds for a 9 year old boy with cerebral palsy who needed awheelchair. Through sponsorship the Instructors of SAFE haveraised £1300 which will go to top up funds raised by others.Enabling the above individual to receive his wheelchair before hisholidays.

Stoke Angling For Everyoneand the City Waters Advisory Management Grouphave been advised that our Urban Fisheries Regeneration Project maybe used as a blue print along with other similar projects at 50 newlocations in the UK. The Environment Agency andother angling bodies proposed this new initiate with possible matchfunding being received from the lottery and government. This is goodnews for anglers, so let’s hope it can be achieved by everyoneworking as one. Just think what can beachieved……..

A nice crucian caught by a young pupil

Stoke Angling For Everyone welcomes invitations fromangling clubs and tackle shops who currently hold fishing events intheir local communities to come along to the SAFE Have A GoAt Fishing events.

A very big thank you to all that have made this a great first yearfor SAFE and we all look forward to the future success of integratingangling into local communities and making sure we take the sport ofangling into the future.

David Sloane-Bulger – Secretary SAFE

Contact number: 01782 871699

Email Address: davidsbulger@aol.com

FISHINGmagic will report on all SAFE activities and supportthem in every way it can.