My first introduction to fishing was through LEAPS (Lead to Encourage Activities, Participation & Sport). This introduction sparked my interest, subsequently I met a representative from Wear Valley Angling. My first concerns were those of safety, but after  comprehensive induction, those concerns were allayed. The support and training from the instructor was excellent. Not only did we spend time fishing but he talked to me about the wildlife and plant life around the venue. I learned about the river and the water conditions and how this affects the fish. I had enormous confidence in his abilities and this made me feel at ease. Knowing what type of bird was singing and being able to touch a bush or a tree and have it explained was a great stimulation to me and this stayed with me for many days after the experience.

To get disabled people interested in some form of hobby or pastime can promote wellbeing, confidence, independence, communication and socialisation skills: fishing does this. WVA have the expertise to make the fishing experience a worthwhile and enjoyable past time. The opportunity to use this service is an excellent way to promote the need for more access to sport and leisure activities for blind and disabled people in County Durham. It may be a catalyst for blind and disabled people to try other related leaning and leisure opportunities and could lead to volunteering opportunities or even form back to work plans. I feel it is a privilege to support Wear Valley Angling in their venture and for the way they support me.

Jim Welch
(Chair) Blind Life in Durham
Durham Disability Voice

Dear Sir/Madam,

My brother and myself have been fishing with Gary (Wear Valley Angling) for nearly six months. Both of us have mental health issues and had become somewhat withdrawn. When our psychiatric nurse suggested fishing, we were initially reluctant but decided to give it a go.

From day one Gary made us very welcome. All the tackle that we needed was ready made up for us to use. Everything we needed to know was carefully explained and all enquiries cheerfully answered. Gary has the knack of putting you at ease and is a great conversationalist and mentor. His knowledge of fishing is imense and he passes this information on to his pupils.

To make sure that things remain interesting we go to different venues every week and try for different types of fish using different methods and techniques. My favourite is pike fishing though we fish for all species with varying degrees of success. Sometimes we catch nothing but it is not for the want of trying.

We both find fishing with Gary very relaxing, exciting and addictive. You never quite know what you are going to catch next and the feeling of achievement when you catch something is great. All the fish are returned alive and handled very carefully.

When you are fishing in different venues you see lots of wildlife that ordinarily you would not see. We have seen kingfishers, Herons, a wide selection of ducks, Swans and numerous other birds and mammals. As fishing with Gary is a group activity we have made some good friends and companions along the way. Everyone gets on like a house on fire. Everyone is different of course but we all share the commom denominator, that is, a love of fishing.

To anyone thinking of taking up fishing with Wear Valley Angling, go for it!

Yours Sincerely
County Durham