HMS Heron's Angling Club teach downgraded personnel how to fish

Storyline: Angling

RNAS Yeovilton’s HMS Heron Angling club ran a successful fishing course last week hosting downgraded personnel at HMS Heron’s Lake.

Despite the weather, 16 downgraded personnel from across the military visited HMS Heron Angling club to learn how to fish, with some of them learning for the very first time. 

The course has been set up between HMS Heron Angling Club and the Royal Navy Recovery and Resilience Margins Headquarters providing fishing classes to individuals from across various Naval Recovery Units and wider military establishments. 

Petty Officer (PO) Adam Chamberlain (37) who runs HMS Heron Angling club alongside being an Air Engineering Technician for 847 Naval Air Squadron said, ‘It’s not commonly known but there is a large amount of research over the years for using angling as a method for recovery. Angling promotes serenity in a relaxing and peaceful environment.’ 

He added, ‘So much so that the NHS are now backing new projects and teaming up with the Environment Agency and the Angling Trust to provide classes to assist recovery. Angling has been proven to improve anxiety and depression as well as well-being and mental health.’ 

PO Matt Lawton (34) who is currently also downgraded is the lead instructor for the course.  PO Lawton alongside PO Nathan Dennis (26) ensure the course is designed for anyone to attend regardless of rank or disability and most importantly ensuring participants have a good time.

The first course in April was a resounding success. The participants had a great time, bonded as a group and started to open up about the issues they were facing with their mental health or injuries. This success led to subsequent courses in June, July and most recently September. 

The feedback from last week’s participants is extremely positive with some individuals fully engaging wanting to learn how to fish and others enjoying the time away from the daily struggles of recovery to try something new.  

Medically downgraded Able Rating Josh Jones (33) from HMS Drake, said ‘It’s been a really good week. It is really important the Navy can offer courses like this.  It helps you still feel part of the military. When downgraded it is easy sometimes to drift away, all your mates are on deployment and the people you usually work with, you don’t see. It gives you a chance to get around other military people, escape the house and have a reset.’

Often the individuals involved with supporting this project do so while also holding busy operational roles at the air station Yeovilton. The huge benefit this course offers to the health and wellbeing to recovery personnel will ensure HMS Heron Angling Club will continue to host these fishing courses for the foreseeable future.

Angling has been proven to improve anxiety and depression as well as well-being and mental health.

PO Adam Chamberlain