DofE Bronze award – Volunteer work 28th April, 2018

A few months ago Matthew decided to attempt to complete his Bronze Duke of Edinburgh award. Part of the programme required him to complete 3 months worth of volunteer work and there was only ever going to be one place and one activity that he would participate in to complete this section of the award.

Luckily for Matthew, Steve Deare at Learn to Fish agreed to allow Matthew to join him and complete his volunteer work there.

Learn to fish is a local fishing organisation that helps gets children away from the computer screens and back into the great outdoors.
Its run by qualified fishermen from the Angling Trust, all who are DBS (CRB) registered, first aid trained and a very experienced anglers.
And best of all its run at one of his favourite lakes, Tyler’s Common, Brentwood.

Matthew would be spending his days helping children and adults learn to fish. Giving them the benefit of his experiences as a young angler and hopefully helping them catch a few fish as well.

It was the perfect scenario, he would be spending the mornings teaching others, meeting and talking to new people about fishing, and in the afternoons he would get a few hours to himself on the bank.

His first session seemed to go extremely well. I arrived at the lake, late in the afternoon just as Matthew was starting to pack up. As I wandered down the hill over to his swim, a women approached me from the opposite lake, seemingly wanting to talk to me. As she came closer she pointed to Matthew, who was busy reeling in his last cast of the day. ‘Excuse me’ she said, ‘Are you Matthew’s Dad?’. It was obvious, by her clothes that she wasn’t a fishing mum and I didn’t recall ever seeing her at the lake before but the fact that she already knew Matthew’s name didn’t surprise me at all and made me smile.

‘Yes, I’m his Dad, everything okay?’

‘Oh yes’ she said. ‘What an absolutely lovely young man’.

I pointed at Matthew, who had just finished pulling in the last of his rods;

‘Sorry, that Matthew?’, I replied jokingly. ‘Are you sure you’re not getting him mixed up with somebody else?’. She smiled back at me, getting the joke. Matthew just looked over at me and rolled his eyes.

She continued to tell me how Matthew had spent most of the day helping her and her husband and their children learn to fish. How polite and kind he was, how he helped the husband release a duck that he had inadvertently hooked while fishing on the top and how Matthew had helped one of the children catch their first 10lb’er.

‘He’s an absolutely credit to you and a wonder lad.’

I thanked her for her kinds words, said our polite goodbyes to the family and trundled off up the hill to the car park.

On the walk back, Matthew told me what a great day it had been. How he’d managed to net the duck that had been snared, so he could get the hook out of its mouth. How he’d been giving £15 in ‘tips’ for his help and hard work and how his friend Arthur the bailiff hadn’t even charged him for the days fishing, a perfect day.

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A huge, huge thanks to Steve Deare at Learntofish and Arthur the baliff at Tylers Common, Brentwood

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