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Catching the Smile

September 10th saw the first event of the Suffolk branch of the the fishing charity (MTSFC) which was held at the Hintlesham Fly Fishing Club lake. The Suffolk branch, set up by Court Knoll Lodge, ‘aims to bring an interactive fishing and countryside experience to people with Special Needs”.  It achieves this by running fishing events, both coarse and fly, at various fisheries and inviting participants from special needs schools and centres and people who have suffered trauma to come and join in.
This is far more than just a days fishing though! It enables mentally disabled people to gain in confidence, meet new challenges and achieve tangible results to take away; it helps disadvantaged people and those from harsh backgrounds to renew their confidence in meeting people and interacting with adults from outside their spheres; it helps physically disabled people (including war heroes and stroke victims) to participate and experience something that may otherwise be unavailable to them and it enables our volunteers to give back to the community and have some fun along the way. The Masonic fishing Charity which has been running in the UK since 2000 is completely run by volunteers and is a non profit making enterprise. Twenty seven provinces throughout the country each arrange one or two events such as this throughout the year.
The group benefitting from this first Suffolk event was Julian Support from East Anglia, the group works with people with mental health issues and helps to facilitate and support recovery, more information on the group can be found at www.juliansupport.org.
Fish3A total of 42 people arrived at Hintlesham in bright sunshine to start the day and a hearty breakfast of bacon and sausage baps, tea and coffee was immediately served. After a comprehensive health and safety talk was issued all the nine participants from Julian Support were given a quality rucksack ‘welcome bag’ containing a cap, waterproof poncho, wristband, antiseptic hand wipes, water bottle holder, a fish bag to hold their catch and a leaflet explaining the work of the MTSFC. They were then introduced to their experienced fishing partner for the day and made their way too the waters edge to begin fishing.
With trout rising all over the lakes it was only a short time before the first fish of the day was landed by Ian with a little help and encouragement from caster Mick Austin of Holland on sea. Ian commented ‘I have been fishing at Needham Lakes before but this is my first go at fly fishing and is a good break from my normal daily routine, I’m really enjoying myself’.
 In the following few hours around 40 trout were landed in total, the participants were allowed to keep two fish each to take home, the remainder being unhooked and returned unharmed back to the lake.
A horn sounded at 1 pm to mark the end of the mornings fishing and everyone walked from the lake to enjoy a hearty BBQ lunch of burgers, sausages, fresh salad and rolls followed by strawberries and cream.
fish8Certificates were awarded by the PGM and APGM to Agnesse for the heaviest fish caught at 2lb 8oz, to Ian for best brown trout at 2lb and to Phil for most fish caught, ten landed. All competitors received a framed certificate and lapel badge. Ian Yeldham thanked everyone involved for organising such a successful event and commented that “he hoped that everyone who had been invited along to fish had enjoyed themselves as much as we had enjoyed having them”. A raffle was held during the day and raised £170 which will go into the Suffolk branch Mtsfc funds.
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James Gant, recovery co-ordinator for Julian Support remarked “I really can’t speak highly enough of the Suffolk and Essex Freemasons and helpers who made this event happen, you all thoroughly spoilt us throughout the whole day. There isn’t anything you could of done to make the day any better. To be able to offer such an opportunity  for our Service User’s to participate in has been amazing, you only had to look at the smiles on the participants faces at the end of the day to see what a positive impact the event has had on them. It is event’s like this that enable individuals to gain confidence and recover in the community.”
The event was a fantastic success and Court Knoll have done all Suffolk Freemasons proud, a great day, Everyone present certainly ‘Caught the smile’.
Court Knoll lodge are the organising team for these events and would welcome any support from other masons across Suffolk, the next event will be a coarse fishing event. If anyone has a school or group that would like to attend please forward their  please contact Jonathan Neill on jon@sportsafeuk.com or 01206 795265.
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