Catch of the Day
Blinded military veterans experienced sea-fishing with the help of anglers from RAF Wittering and the charity
Blind Veterans UK.
Two blinded veterans and three supporters from Blind Veterans UK (BVUK) took part in the friendly competition at Holyhead marina, against five anglers from RAF Wittering,
to see who could land the biggest fish.
The event grew out of a chance meeting at a fishing shop in Anglesey two years ago when Flight Sergeant Nige Gurney from Wittering met up with Billy Baxter, a former soldier who lost his sight in 1992 while serving in Bosnia.
BVUK has provided rehabilitation, training, practical advice and emotional support to tens of thousands of blind veterans since 1915. One of BVUK’s objectives is to help blinded veterans take up the activities they enjoyed
before sight loss.
Despite blindness, Mr Baxter is still able to enjoy the sport of fishing. He said: “Nothing makes up for the loss of your sight, but the other senses are increased. Through the rod and line, you can feel the pull of the fish and the direction it’s pulling. With help it’s still possible to handle the fish and safely remove the hook. Then there’s the sounds and senses of your surroundings.”
Conditions on the day were good with some good catches too; the biggest fish was an impressive Bull Huss, a smaller relative of the shark family, measuring over 100 cm in length, caught by one of the support workers from BVUK.
Flight Sergeant Gurney said: “It was brilliant. Most people would think that angling is not accessible for blind people, but that’s just not the case. Billy and Hugh had a great time and you could see that they were as much into angling as we were. Sure, they needed some help, but Billy and Hugh were fishing just like the rest of us.”
Mr Baxter added: “It was humbling and such a good day. Nige and the team looked after us really well, we had banter and it was like we’d never left the services.”