Veterans living at Launchpad’s Avondale House in Byker used fishing as a way to get outdoors and help take their minds away from life’s daily stresses…

The day-trip was organised by the Angling Trust, the sport’s governing body in England, to help residents relax and disconnect from everyday anxieties. All essentials were provided, including the tackle and bait, licence and transport and despite the cold conditions, a good day was had by all.

The veterans visited Derwent Reservoir near Consett in County Durham where they learned to fish for trout. The lesson was facilitated by Dave Munt, Club & Fishery Development Officer at the Angling Trust who is also a Level 2 qualified coach. Dave said:

“The Angling Trust supports a campaign called We are Undefeatable, which was launched by Sport England to encourage groups of people with health conditions to become more active in sport. Fishing provides a positive experience and it is a great way to relax and unwind. We work in partnership with the Environment Agency and Northumbrian Water to take groups of people such as veterans and provide a different experience.”

Andy Hardy, Facilities Manager at Avondale House also attended the trip to Derwent Reservoir. He said: “A high percentage of our residents have severe mental health issues, ranging from anxiety to service and non-service-related PTSD. We found out that Dave was working with other veteran groups in the North East so we asked if it would be possible to engage with our residents.

“It was a good day, we all got to sit together, have a chat, relax and let all those every day stresses pass us by. The lads were thrilled to catch a rainbow trout and one brown trout which we released back into the water. The feedback from those who attended was very positive and we are making plans to do it again soon.”

One of the residents attending the trip was Dave. He said: “Having grown up in Scotland where I used to fish, this trip gave me the opportunity to relive my childhood days. As a recovering alcoholic, it gave me time to reflect on my past history of my drinking into oblivion and consequently near death. It was a really good day out – even if you weren’t a fisherman.

“I was probably 14 last time I caught a fish so you can imagine the feeling of landing this beautiful Rainbow Trout on the shore of Derwent Reservoir. This trip had such a beneficial tribute to my recovery and I’d like to thank everyone who made the day so special. I would like to go on the next trip if it comes along.”

Don Coe, Leisure Operations Manager at Northumbrian Water, said: “We are delighted to be able to work in partnership with the Environment Agency and the Angling Trust by providing excellent venues in stunning locations across the region. Data from surveys commissioned by the medical profession state that angling ‘actively promotes and encourages socialisation, social inclusion and social interaction’.

“It also ‘strongly promotes health in many ways from mental health to physical health and wellbeing it is also a powerful recovery aid that benefits patients.’ As a company, we are both proud and delighted to support a wide variety of schemes of this nature in our region by providing partners and participants with an all-round positive beneficial experience.”