PAUL Whitehouse, comedian, actor and star of BBC’s hit show ‘Gone Fishing’ joined a group of ex-military personnel at The Not Forgotten’s annual carp fishing respite holiday at the River Farm Carp Fishery in Hampshire.
A keen fisherman and firm believer that fishing is the best therapy in the world, the veterans were delighted when Paul arrived to meet them and talk to them about their experiences on the riverbank at the event run by the British Armed Forces charity that supports serving and ex-military personnel.
The peaceful and picturesque lakes provide a perfect backdrop for the three-day fishing event and an opportunity for 14 veterans, many of whom were seriously injured during conflict and are suffering from PTSD and anxiety issues, to relax, share their experiences and bond over some healthy, competitive fishing, in a safe environment.
Paul Whitehouse commented:
“It was an absolute joy to meet all the guys and see just how much pleasure fishing can bring to people, especially when they have had to deal with a lot more than most of us. Mind you, they haven’t caught very much yet – they are as bad as Bob!”
The trip comes at a time when fishing has been prescribed by the NHS for the first time in the UK as GPs team up with anglers to help people suffering from depression. Under the new initiative, GPs, occupational therapists, psychiatrists and psychologists in all health institutions can prescribe angling instead of anti-depressants and anxiety medications.
Veterans from the Army and the Royal Marines who served in conflicts, including the Falklands and Afghanistan, spend the days fishing and the evenings socialising at the annual events, with some friendly, lively banter and a story or two about the catch of the day.
The Not Forgotten is based on the principles of providing entertainment and recreation, including social activities and challenge holidays, to those injured in the service of their country and the carp fishing event is just one of the popular events the charity organises throughout the year.
Brigadier James Stopford, CBE, CEO of The Not Forgotten, said:
“This is the first respite trip we have organised for our beneficiaries this year following lockdown and is just one of many we have programmed over the months ahead.
“We are especially pleased this event is taking place as the participants have formed great friendships as a result of meeting on various Not Forgotten events in the past, and this is the first time they will come together as one group.
“These therapeutic fishing trips are all about comradeship and support and are important in helping to ensure veterans do not feel ‘forgotten’. They provide an opportunity for our veterans to have a bit of fun and respite, regain some balance and share experiences in the company of like-minded individuals.
“We find these trips have a significant positive effect on the individual’s health and wellbeing, improving their self-esteem and dignity. It is a fantastic opportunity for them to feel connected again after the isolation of 2020, and it is a great privilege for us to help lift their spirits and rekindle their confidence.”
The Not Forgotten combats isolation and loneliness amongst the Armed Forces community through social activities and challenge holidays. If you are a serving or ex-member of the Armed Forces or you know of someone that could benefit from the help of The Not Forgotten, please get in touch by contacting Tel: 0207 730 2400.