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17/09/22 - MOSAIC Charity event - Revels - Stock Pond

Today marked the first of what I hope to be many sessions with MOSAIC, a charity set up 15 years ago to give and support to bereaved children. I knew it was going to be a special day for me personally because, in my youth I suffered several family bereavements before I was 14 years old. Back then there was no support for children like me, and I’m sure that things would have been easier to cope with had there been so.

I don’t think I can remember checking the weather forecast quite so often as I did during these last couple of weeks, so anxious was I that the sun would smile upon us for such a worthy event. Smile it did, despite a chilly start.

The car had been loaded the night before to save time in the morning, even so I was still awake at 4:30am with a buzzing brain. The clock always seems to tick backwards when you are so looking forward to a day like this, and I made a promise to myself to ‘see’ every minute of the day so as not to let any of it slip past me.

As you would expect, I arrived bright and early at Revels, and Jason wandered out to meet me at the shop. He was kind enough to give me the choice of the Stock Pond or Trendals Lake. So, I walked up to check them out. Jason did warn me that the grass had exploded with growth and that they had not had chance to cut it. Even so, I was not ready for the three bath loads of water that was to fill my shoes before the day had really begun in earnest!

I decided on the Stock Pond as planned because of the weed in Trendals, and so the set up began. I had forgotten the direction signs (See, well organised…), so I set up one of our banner flags at the entrance. The other was set up at the top of the camping field, and the main banner was placed by the lake for photos.

Water levels were still low, but the pond would still deliver for our spotless new (potential) anglers. I very lucky to have a Jerry Bracey, a Jon Bass, a Chris ward, and a Tim Broughton to do the coaching today. It would be down to these four guys to deliver the session today. This gave me the time to organise, be liaison, and photographer.

With everything set up, we were ready. I wandered down to the parking area to find the lovely Louise Grady from MOSAIC had arrived along with our first intrepid, and extremely tall participant, Sam. A quick chat with Sam’s mum told me that Sam was a quiet lad, and a quiet lad needs a calm coach. Step forward Mr Jon Bass. Jon would be the perfect person to put Sam with for his time with us. Jon has a quiet demeanour that seems to sooth children with conditions like autism, and they seemed bond well.

I walked back down the hill and, by now the others had arrived. Liam, Grace, and Lottie. A quick chat about the dos and don’ts, and we were on our way to the lake.

Liam: Tim Broughton: Liam seems a lively young man right from the start. After just 10 minutes, Tim came wandering along saying, he doesn’t need me… I looked to see fish being swung to hand, unhooked, and carefully popped into the keep net! Tim and I looked at each other, shrugged, and let him get on with it! Of course, Tim was always close to hand should he be needed, but Liam was simply getting on with catching some very large Roach indeed! Liam’s mum asked me not to include any pictures of him in this blog, and I have respectfully adhered to this request. I felt it was worth including a cropped picture of the colourful fish that Liam caught. Well done, Liam!

Lottie: Jerry Bracey: Our first young lady of the day was Lottie. Jerry quickly got down to showing her the bait and equipment that they would be using today, a whip and maggots. You don’t really need much else to have a great day on the stock pond. They seemed to have found ‘Gudgeon corner’, either that or Lottie, unbeknown to her, was a ‘Basher*’ of the highest order. Gonk after Gonk was plucked from the water with clinical precision. They were very small, but Lottie said they were cute, so it was all good. She did catch some other species too though and ended her two-hour session with another colourful bag of wriggling fishes. Well done, Lottie! *Basher, or Gudgeon Bashing – The name of someone, or the activity of catching lots of Gudgeon, is known as a Basher or Bashing. No Gudgeon were harmed during this or any other session. *

Grace: Chris Ward: Like the signs, the whip in Chris’s holdall was overlooked by my organisational skills… The eye on which you attach the rig was missing. So, Chris was forced to use a waggler rod instead. I don’t think he minded though and Grace was quick to pick up her rod and reel skills, although no casting was involved. Grace told me other interest was Rugby, but she didn’t like tackling or hurting other people… I couldn’t help thinking that this view may have an adverse impact on her Rugby career, but she was gentle with the fish too. Grace and Chris made a good team, and they were soon excitedly catching lots of fish. Well done, Grace!

Sam: Jon Bass: Autism has made Sam endure more than his fair share of suffering at the hands of less desirable pupils at his school. Add to that the reasons for his involvement with MOSAIC, and he has every reason to be inwardly sad and withdrawn. But not today… Today was the day that his mum emotionally revealed that this was the first time she had seen him smile for many months, and smile he did thanks to the brilliant efforts of Jon, and the willingness to provide entertainment from the fish. Sam was in ‘Winners Corner’, the peg that won two of the four rounds of our knockout series and caught some small Carp that were, apparently massive! So, I will correct myself and say that they were ‘Massive Carp’ instead… All the participants were heart-warming to watch, but Sam was the one who’s session touched me the most. If Louise gets half of this feeling from her job that I did from Sam, then she does an amazing job and is truly blessed. It is worth mentioning that Sam did like to hold his fish, and who doesn’t? But one did get away when he missed the keepnet! Sam looked at Jon to do something about it. Jon looked back saying he wasn’t going to! Despite my best efforts of persuasion, Sam was reluctant to show his face in any pictures today, but he didn’t mind showing us the fish he caught. Well done, Sam!

We had a group photograph with Lottie and Grace, with Liam and Sam not wishing to take part, and that is perfectly fine. I thanked the four children for coming to fish with us today and told them they would be more than welcome to join us at DDAS Juniors in the future.

With first session complete, rigs were checked ready for the afternoon session. As we said goodbye to the first four, the second wave was arriving the first of those being Chaise. I took Chaise up to introduce him to Tim, along with his dad and went back collect the others. But Louise had found another one. I introduced and lad called Rex to Jerry and returned to the carpark area with Louise. We had a chance to reflect on the morning events and she remarked on how well it went and how well the children responded. Louise’s husband, Trevor, is a member of the DDAS and it was through him emailing club Secretary, Gary Biles, that we became aware of MOSAIC. Louise has been doing her thoroughly rewarding job for the last three years and their activities include Paddle boarding, walking, picnics, and a multitude of other brilliant activities that bring some light into an otherwise dark time in these children’s lives. I would not be surprised to hear that they were planning to climb Everest, or journey to the South Pole in the future. MOSAIC is the chosen charity for fund raising from DDAS this year and I would encourage all our members to donate some extra funds towards this most worthy of charities.

Back to the fishing then and we were, unfortunately, one down for the afternoon. This meant that we only had to meet Gwen, her brother Ethan, and their Grand Parents. Ethan was given the opportunity to fish if he wished to. But the offer was politely declined with a ‘Nah, it’s ok, I’m good. Thank you’… I told him he’d be fishing before the end…. Gwen was introduced to Jon, leaving Chris to float fish for the many species at his leisure.

Chaise: Tim Broughton: Chaise had been cold in the shade of the car park and put on a fleece hoodie. This soon came off at the lake because, by now, the sun was really quite warm indeed. I can honestly say that Chaise has ‘Good knees’ because he was up and down like the cushion on Tim’s seat box was red hot! Maybe it was? Like Liam earlier, Chaise got to grips with fishing with a whip quite quickly. Surely down to expert teachings of Master Yoda Broughton…. Chaise seemed to really enjoy his session, but there was a slight drawback in that he was a bit wary of touching both the fish and the maggots… He was getting there towards the end and the fish that he caught can think themselves lucky they were treated so gently because he did want to hurt them! Another colourful net of stock pond inhabitants. Well done Chaise!

Rex: Jerry Bracey: Over in Gudgeon corner, things had not changed much. The Gudgeon is a noble fish to catch but they are much maligned by anglers as a nuisance fish. Rex was happy enough to catch these miniature Gobies, but when the anglers around you are whooping with delight at large Roach and small Carp, Rex turned to his coach for an explanation? To be fair, Jerry was doing all he could with what he had with him and catching loads of tiny fish makes the small fish look much bigger. A quiet lad, Rex seemed to be enjoying himself by catching quantity rather than quality. There were some better fish for Rex towards the end. Well done, Rex!

Ethan: Chris Ward: Remember Ethan that didn’t want to fish and Chris who was having a quite time float fishing? Yeah, well, that didn’t last long! Two or three minutes of watching his sister catching some Jon Bass inspired baby Carp was enough to change Ethan’s mind. I purchased a free rod licence for him online and he was good to go. We prized the rod from Chris’s hands and sat Ethan in his place. Ethan set about learning the ropes with Chris and started to catch some Carrots (Goldfish). Fishing had weaved its magic and pulled a reluctant teenager to the shores of a lake once again. Ethan caught a variety of species and very colourful they were too! Well done, Ethan!

Gwen: Jon Bass: Ethan’s sister Gwen had been blessed with the tuition of Jon on a peg that had already shown some form the morning session. Within seconds of Ethan picking up a rod, the sibling rivalry had begun in earnest. The question ‘How many fish do you have now?’ was asked at least 400 times in just two short hours! Gwen, like almost all the others, had never been fishing before. One or two had been sea fishing, but as all coarse anglers know, that doesn’t count because you never fish the far bank! Within the first hour Gwen was unhooking her fish unaided and replacing bait etc. At the end, Ethan had caught a few fish and did very well for his first trip. But Gwen had a good swim and made full use of her loaned Jon Bass for the day. They had similar numbers of fish, but Gwen’s were a bit bigger. First blood to Gwen! I hope they return to renew the rivalry with DDAS Juniors. Well done, Gwen!

The day was completed with some photos as before and all too soon it was time to say goodbye again.

In my three years of being an angling coach I have never experienced such a heart-warming day. It didn’t get as emotional for me as I feared it might on the day, but let me tell you, I have been wiping away the tears during the writing of this blog post…

I want to thank Alan Winsper at Alan’s Angling for the donation of the pole rigs. Thank you also to Jason Fricker and the staff at Revels Fishery and Tackle Shop of the use of the lakes, the free bait, and additional free pole rigs. Thank you both for your support.

Thank you to Jerry, Tim, Chris, and Jon for their time and effort today. You all made the day complete and, in some cases, introduced some of the participants back to smiling again. I challenge anyone to put a price on that!

Thank you to Trevor and Gary for introducing me to Louise.

From the bottom of my heart, thank you to Louise, who skilfully dodged my camera today, and to MOSAIC for all the amazing things you do for these most worthy of children. To bring joy and light into otherwise darkened lives is a truly blessed calling, and I am proud and honoured to have helped these wonderful children in any way we can. I look forward to planning many more sessions like this in the future.

Juniors Sec…

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