Our Volunteer Heroes! Excellence Awards For Members Who Go The Extra Mile

Our volunteers are vital to the work of the Angling Trust and the year-round protection of our fish and fisheries continues to be underpinned by our nationwide team of selfless support workers.  

So, it’s no surprise that the latest Volunteer Excellence Awards have proved richly deserved by the recipients and have once again illustrated that the Angling Trust’s Volunteer Bailiff Service (VBS) remains a vital part of the collaborative project with the Environment Agency and the Police.  

The VBS is run by the Angling Trust through its National Angling Strategic Services contract with the Environment Agency and is funded by income from fishing licence sales. In this latest round of awards, the panel identified eleven more volunteers whose work deserved official recognition. 

Mike Skeen, North West 

Since the new VBS reporting website went live in April, Mike has posted 21 patrols which included 10 incidents. These incidents have ranged from pollution incidents, dangerous banks and footpaths, individual rod and line poaching, through to large groups of poachers. He has a keen eye for detail and has quickly developed into a key member of the North West VBS team since joining it in May 2019. 

Mike Skeen (right) receives his award from Regional Enforcement Manager, Dave Lees

Mike lives in the Stockport area of Greater Manchester and is a committed member of Stockport & District Anglers Federation and bailiff for the River Goyt and Woodbank Park.  

He is a very keen river angler with an excellent knowledge of the river in terms of angling, its ecology and its poaching issues. He cares passionately about the river and makes regular patrols before posting his findings on the secure VBS website.  

All this information has helped to build a better intelligence picture of the river and to arrange joint patrols with the Environment Agency, Police and VBS to better address the issues on the River Goyt. 

Sean Harris, South West 

Sean joined the Voluntary Bailiff Service during the first round of recruitment in 2016. Since then, he has undertaken regular patrols in the Dorset area and has excellent knowledge and contacts in the local angling scene. 

Sean Harris

In addition to his role as a Volunteer Bailiff, Sean has supported coaching sessions for young anglers linked to the Building Bridges project acting as the liaison point between his club, Wimborne and District Angling Club and the Project Manager Janusz Kansik, who said: “Sean has helped us a lot to deliver one of the best coaching courses we have organised.” 

As well as actively undertaking patrols and logging incidents, Sean has taken opportunities to work with local Fisheries Enforcement Officers, particularly during the close season for Operation Clampdown 9. 

Graham Raven, South East 
Recipient of the first David Fletcher VBS Memorial Award  

The Dave Fletcher award was presented to Graham Raven for his dedication and professionalism in the role of a Volunteer Bailiff at both phase 1 and phase 2. 

Graham Raven

Graham joined the VBS in April 2019 and has been an enthusiastic volunteer in the Herts and North London area. Graham has worked closely with the Environment Agency and has completed regular joint patrols with EA Fisheries Officers in addition to reporting patrols and visits to his local waters. He has been a strong voice in the area for the benefits of the VBS in working in partnership with the EA and has encouraged others to join. Graham has successfully applied for the Volunteer Bailiff phase 2 project and is completing the training for this role with the EA.   

  • The David Fletcher Award was created to honour one of the Angling Trust’s founder members of the Volunteer Bailiff Service who sadly passed away last year. David was an area co-ordinator in Hertfordshire and the award will now be presented on an annual basis to a recipient operating in the region in which David was based. 

Peter Bowers Davies, South East 

Peter joined the VBS in April 2019 and is based in the Kent and South London area. He has formed an excellent partnership with the National Trust at Morden Hall in Surrey and has raised the local problems of poaching and anti-social behaviour with the Police and Environment Agency. 

Peter Bowers Davies (centre)

By way of reports and joint patrols with the EA and Police, Peter has initiated a positive and intelligence led approach with partners to help combat the poaching issues on the River Wandle in the Morden area. Peter has successfully applied for the VBS phase 2 project and is completing the training for this role with the EA.  

Simon Wain, Midlands

Simon has been a Deputy Area Coordinator for the East Midlands, with particular responsibility for Nottinghamshire, for the majority of his three-and-a-half-year spell in the VBS.

Simon Wain (left) with Regional Enforcement Manager, Kevin Pearson

He involves himself in every opportunity to support Angling Trust and the VBS at training sessions, forums and by participating in patrols with fellow volunteers, providing excellent mentoring and one-to-one support for new joiners. He has joined the EA and police on many occasions to work alongside them and has become a recognised figure in VBS.

With changes to work patterns as a result of the pandemic, Simon has risen to the challenge of using online media to participate in meetings, training and providing advice and guidance to VBS colleagues, and has also showed a willingness to embrace new technology with the new VBS website.

Mark Kibble, Midlands 

Mark is an enthusiastic and most reliable Volunteer Bailiff who relentlessly fulfils his role in a dedicated and conscientious manner and provides first-class support for his Area Coordinator by helping to organise local fisheries patrols on the River Avon around Pershore and Evesham in Worcestershire. 

Mark Kibble (left) with Area Co-ordinator, Anthony Wilson

As well as being in the VBS, Mark is a club bailiff for both the Birmingham Anglers’ Association and Smiths Angling Club and a committee member for the latter, mixing all roles effortlessly. His reports to all organisations are of a high quality and he ensures that fisheries incidents on a range of issues outside of fishing, such as misuse of drugs and litter, are properly reported to the EA and relevant authorities.  

He also has a keen eye for spotting areas of potential danger for anglers and is quick to report Health and Safety hazards to his club and offer solutions and assistance to resolve them. Mark is also a qualified first aider and paramedic and shares his knowledge to support his colleagues, offering to provide training and advice whenever the club or VBS need it. 

Mark is a fine ambassador for the Angling Trust who is liked and respected by EA and police partners who have met him on their patrols. Consequently, he has become a reliable and trusted figure in the area. 

John Anderson, Midlands 

John has been a regular volunteer around the Burton on Trent area for many years. He is a member of the VBS team and Head Bailiff of a local club as well as volunteering with HOPE, a charity supporting locals in need. 

John Anderson

He is also Chair of two parishes, and an NHS and school governor. John was nominated for the Volunteer Award for his continued support in delivering angling participation events across the Burton area and his work as Chair of the angling club FISH2013, who work with the Angling Trust and both local and national partners. John also recently set up the new Trent Partnership which has brought together a host of partners that use the river Trent to move forward in a positive, united way. The Trent Partnership has already undertaken several patrols to enforce the river closed season and to clamp down on illegal fishing. John, who is also running in a local election to become a Councillor, is a true local volunteer. 

Tony Jakes, East of England 

When winter floodwater conditions were rife across the country, including in the low-lying fens around Cambridgeshire, Tony selflessly continued his schedule of patrols around his local waters. 

Tony Jakes

During one such patrol, Tony came across a teenage boy who was inadequately dressed for the harsh weather and fishing on the swollen Whittlesey Dyke at Burnt House Bridge, near Peterborough. 

Tony, approached the novice angler and explained the dangers of fishing the flooded drains, which were flowing fast and coloured at around 6ft above their normal levels and still rising following recent heavy rain and snow.  After pointing out the dangers from powerful currents and hazardous footing, Tony was able to persuade the boy to pack away his tackle and call home to arrange a lift. 

Tony joined the Angling Trust’s Volunteer Bailiff Service in 2019 and is also a club bailiff for Whittlesey Angling Association and his overall level of commitment to the ethos of VBS by continuing to patrol during inclement weather and hazardous conditions stands means his Volunteering Excellence Award is very much deserved. 

Iain Fraser, East of England 

When the VBS was first rolled out in the East of England in Spring 2016, Regional Enforcement Manager Paul Thomas held an induction day and invited anglers from Humberside to Essex to go along and put something back into the sport they love. Only one person attended from the three counties of Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex – Iain Fraser. 

Iain Fraser (left) with Regional Enforcement Manager, Paul Thomas

Since that day, Iain has worked to increase volunteer numbers in the East of East Anglia and consequently, there is now have a healthy number of VBS volunteers regularly patrolling the local waters. His well-deserved Volunteering Excellence Award is in recognition of his continued and determined work over the past five years. This longevity in a voluntary role to put something back into his local rural community is truly commendable and highlights Iain as a real credit to the VBS. 

Jurgen Mitchell, North East 

Jurgen was nominated for the Volunteer Excellence Award after the months of help and guidance he offered to the newly appointed Regional Enforcement Support Manager Kevin Woodcock. 

Jurgen Mitchell (right) with Regional Enforcement Manager, Kevin Woodcock

Jurgen introduced Kevin to numerous people from the Environment Agency, Police, club bailiffs around West Yorkshire and has arranged several multi-agency patrols during the Operation Clampdown 9 in the close season. Liaising with EA, West Yorkshire Police and Volunteer Bailiffs, Jurgen’s enthusiasm is infectious. He is a credit to the VBS and the Angling Trust. 

Steve Withy, North East 

Steve undertook his Sport England Level 2 Coaching awards via the Angling Trust in 2013.

Steve Withy

Since then, Steve has given up many hours, days and weeks coaching groups, school parties and individual youths at his club’s lakes in South Durham. Steve is a passionate angler and continually promoting the sport and the Angling Trust, as well as being an active Volunteer Bailiff. He is a credit to his club, the Angling Trust and to angling. 

Leave a Reply