Fly fishing can help breast cancer recovery

Learning to fish may not be your first thought when you’re recovering from breast cancer but it can be a great way to regain strength and confidence.
South West Fishing for Life is a charitable organisation set up seven years ago for people suffering, recovering from or living with breast cancer.
It provides free fly fishing sessions under the supervision of qualified coaches with monthly meetings at lakes around the South West and now the Greater Manchester area.
Its headquarters are at Wimbleball on Exmoor and there will be a seventh anniversary open day there on June 7.

Learn a new skill

Elizabeth was diagnosed with breast cancer two years ago and read an article about Fishing for Life on a visit to our Support Centre. She’d never tried fly fishing before and now she’s hooked.
“I’d always wanted to learn to fish and this was a good opportunity so I went along to a session at Wimbleball,” said Elizabeth. “I didn’t know anything about how to fish but everyone was very friendly, they lend you equipment, there are qualified coaches to teach you the technique and they are always on hand to help.
“One very positive thing that came out of having breast cancer is that I’ve learnt a completely new skill.
“It’s really calming. When you think your life is going to be shortened it’s great to get out and be in at peace in nature. You see other people who have survived four and five years getting on with their lives and that gives you tremendous hope. We don’t talk about cancer all the time but it’s good to know there’s someone there who knows what you’re going through if you want to talk about treatment or drugs or whatever.
“It’s absorbing and quite an intellectual challenge too in selecting the right fly, judging the conditions and choosing where to cast. It takes you mind off your troubles and helps you to live in the moment. It’s been absolutely brilliant.”

Endorsed by FORCE

Fishing for Life is endorsed by FORCE oncology physiotherapist Louise Ballagher.
“Any exercise promotion is good! I usually inform my groups about the fishing. It is particularly useful for the breast ladies to gain strength and confidence in using their arm,” she said.
As well as Wimbleball, sessions are held at Kennick near Bovey Tracey, Siblyback near Liskeard, Blagdon near Bristol, the Wrackleford Estate fishery just outside Dorchester and Curley’s Fishery near Bolton.
Fishing for Life secretary Gillian Payne is grateful to FORCE for helping to promote her organisation.
“FORCE is great for getting our message across. All people need to do is ring me up, email me, come along, have a chat, it’s all free. All you have to do is take a waterproof coat, wellie boots and each of the groups do refreshments after the sessions,” she said.
The open day at Wimbleball on June 7 runs from 10am to 12:30pm. If you would like to go along and discover more about the work of SWFFL, contact Gillian on 01398 371244 or at