Soldiers Fish Their Way to Fitness

Injured paratroopers cast away their worries as they enjoyed a day of fishing organised by a military charity.

Troops from Colchester-based 2 PARA spent the day at Chigboro Fisheries in Heybridge, courtesy of Fishing for Forces. The charity organises fishing events for military personnel who have recently deployed on operations and could benefit from a relaxing day by the waterside.

The event saw 13 soldiers who had all served in Afghanistan last year taught fly fishing, from the basics of how to cast a line to the fine art of tying flies.

Pte Mark Vidler, who was shot in the leg and received a MID for his skill at finding IEDs, was among those tackling fishing for the first time. He said: “Fishing has been fantastic fun. It’s been a great opportunity to try something different and take time out from the hard work of getting over my injury. I’ve even managed to catch three trout, which is not bad going for an absolute beginner!”

Cpl Chris Pendle, said: “I’ve done some fishing before, but nothing as technical as fly fishing. I’ve enjoyed it and really appreciate the effort that has been put in to looking after us.”

The troops were from 2 PARA’s recovery platoon, which support soldiers injured on operations or in training as they work their way back to full fitness.

Lt Sam Westlake said: “Each soldier has a detailed and demanding recovery plan to get them fixed and are committed to achieving that. This event is a reward for their hard work and everyone has really enjoyed it. Fishing for Forces and Chigboro Fisheries have looked after us really well and I can’t thank them enough.”

Fishing for Forces was set up in 2010 by Bill Howell after he read a letter in an angling magazine from a soldier enthusing about the sport’s therapeutic benefits. Last year 250 soldiers, sailors and airmen went fishing through the charity, with a quarter continuing with the sport. Bill said: “The bottom line is whether soldiers are in hospital or whether they’re in a base or at home recovering, we’ve got some fishing not too far away. So, if they can get themselves to the waterside, we’ll happily organise the tackle, some lunch and a wonderful day out.”

For more information about Fishing for Forces visit www.fishingforforces.org.

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