Royal award for South West Fishing for Life

Somerset County Gazette: FISHING guru Charles Jardine with the volunteers and ladies at one of the fishing sessions. PHOTO: Submitted. FISHING guru Charles Jardine with the volunteers and ladies at one of the fishing sessions. PHOTO: Submitted.

A GROUP of volunteers who help transform the lives of breast cancer sufferers undergoing treatment have won an award.

South West Fishing for Life was set up five years ago to act as therapy and respite for people suffering or recovering from breast cancer.

The 30 volunteers and coaches help people learn how to fish.

In June, the group found out they had been given The Queen’s Award for voluntary services across the South West which is equivalent to an MBE.

They will receive their award on Tuesday (November 26) at a ceremony at Wimbleball Lake presented to them by the Lord Lieutenant of Somerset, Lady Gass.

Gillian Payne, 67, came up with the idea to set up the club after reading a book about a lady suffering from breast cancer and hearing how fishing techniques proved beneficial to build up tissues and muscles for people undergoing treatment.

She said: “I really am so excited about the group receiving the award next week.

“We found out in June that we had won and it’s felt like a really long time since then.

“We wouldn’t exist without all of the volunteers and coaches who give up their time freely to help and I wish there was an individual award for each of them.”

They were nominated by Jan Ross, from Engage West Somerset, a charity who help voluntary organisations with applying for funding and helping and running their organisations.

Jan said: “I’ve been involved with Gillian’s idea pretty much from the beginning and it is wonderful to see how much they’ve grown.

“It can be quite challenging for some people setting these sort of things up to know where to look for funding and that’s where I came in and helped with the applications and all sorts.

“My husband Keith and I have always been invited to the fishing days and annual events and it’s great to see the support offered to the people who go along.

“I feel they were merited official recognition for all their hard work and it has taken a long time since I filled the forms in but the award is the icing on the cake.”

The group sessions have become very popular and attract 30 members, mostly women at Wimbleball Lake who fish for two hours and then have a sit down lunch.

There are six branches, five in the South-West and one in the Pennines.

Gillian added: “I would love for this to happen all around the country, it will take a lot of work but I’m determined.

“It’s about more than just fishing, everyone supports each other and gets to be around others who understand exactly what they are going through, we’re like a family.

“It gets them out for a few hours and some like to talk about their experience, others don’t what matters is that everyone has a good time.”

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