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The Hampshire and Isle of Wight branch of the Masonic Fishing Charity recently held three fishing events at Meon Springs Trout Fishery. Each was attended by 18 pupils from special needs units in Hampshire schools such as: The Toynbee School in Chandlers Ford, Baycroft School in Stubbington, Limington House School in Basingstoke, Icknield School in Andover, Hollywater School in Borden and Rachel Madocks School in Waterlooville. Also in attendance at these events and helping to entertain and present the prizes were the Provincial Grand Master, Michael Wilks and his Deputy, Graham Williams, and their wives Kay and Ann respectively. The sponsors of the events were Beach Lodge and Hampshire Lodge of Emulation, Lodge of Instruction.
Experienced masonic fishermen from across Hampshire and the Isle of
Wight and neighbouring provinces volunteered to act as personal casters
for the children, who spent the day with their caster learning how to fish. Every child caught a fish, which was cleaned and prepared for them to take home along with a recipe card!
Gail Taylor, a Toynbee resource manager, explained the benefits of trips like this as giving hands-on experience of life beyond the home and classroom. Alison Jones of Baycroft School praised the efforts and patience of those helping the children. Will Freeman, an Icknield teacher described the event as absolutely brilliant, a fantastic day. He went on to explain that the children get to see the fish from the water to the table, which is a valuable experience in itself. Toynbee pupil Daisy Lloyd, who is totally blind, was clearly over the moon having caught two trout and Gary Blake, a pupil from Icknield School, who has been to two events now, said that he really looks forward to coming because it is a really fun day and it is good to catch fish.
On each occasion and after a barbecue lunch in the marquee and the opportunity to share fishing stories with their friends, the children were presented with a medal and certificate. Graham Williams, the Deputy Provincial Grand Master, who is a regular at these events explained: “These events are a truly wonderful example of freemasonry at work in the community. Each child is given VIP treatment for the day and their smiles say it all! They love the whole day from the fishing to the lunch. It is well organised and all the volunteers put their heart and soul into making the day such a success.”
The motto of the charity is “Catch the Smile” and this is definitely the case at these events. Every child always leaves at the end of the day with their medal, certificate, a fish and a huge smile. A wonderful educational experience for them and of course us.
If you are an experienced fly fisherman or would just like to help the Masonic Fishing Charity “Catch the Smile” please email Jim Steele for more details
Jim Steele
Insight • Issue 6
10 Twitter @HantsMason

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