Darlington anglers reel in Banks Group support for disabled access project

June 6, 2017 | Group News

(front) Lewis Stokes of the Banks Group with (striped shirt) John Leighton, honorary secretary of Darlington Anglers' Club, (grey t-shirt) David Munt, development officer with the Angling Trust, and a number of Club members and guests

Access to a popular Darlington fishing lake has been made far easier for all thanks to the support of a County Durham-headquartered business.

Darlington Anglers’ Club has completed work on the installation of three new fishing platforms at the Cleasby Lake, which will provide people with disabilities and mobility problems with a far safer place from which to fish.

Around 200m of new footpaths have also been added around the six acre lake which are suitable for wheelchairs to use.

Darlington Anglers’ Club has been working on finding a way to put the new facilities in place for the last two years, and after applying to the Banks Group’s Banks Community Fund for support, a £5,000 grant has allowed it to go ahead.

The Club is now working with local groups to encourage people to take advantage of the new facilities, which are the only ones of their kind in the surrounding area, and has already begun to receive enquiries from potential new members with disabilities.

It is hoping to encourage former anglers who stopped fishing when they started to become less mobile to come back to the water, with an open day planned for Saturday 8 July at which anyone can come along and see what’s on offer.

Dating back to 1894, Darlington Anglers’ Club aims to provide opportunities for members, their guests and day ticket holders to fish for all types of freshwater fish in the River Tees, Cleasby Lake and other local waters.

It has around nine miles of river fishing available, with its space on the River Tees stretching from High Coniscliffe in the north down to where the River Skerne meets the Tees at Croft, and its members also carry out a range of maintenance and improvement work on the banks of its fishing waters.

John Leighton, honorary secretary at Darlington Anglers’ Club, says: “Angling is a sport for all ages, but it can get harder for people to reach their favourite fishing spots as they get older, and for people with disabilities or mobility problems, getting to the waterside can be pretty much impossible.

“There are no similar facilities to these anywhere else in the local area, and as a good number of our existing members are quite elderly, we’d long wanted to put these platforms and footpaths in to give the maximum number of local people the chance to either give angling a try or keep going with their hobby as long as possible.

“We’ve already had enquiries from potential new members about using the platforms, and our open day will provide the perfect opportunity for everyone to see just how good these new facilities are.

“The Banks Group’s support has enabled us this project much more quickly than would otherwise have been the case, and it will make a big difference to the enjoyment that lots of local people get from their hobby for many years to come.”

Lewis Stokes, community relations manager at the Banks Group, adds: “Darlington Anglers’ Club gave us a clear vision of how they wanted to maximise local participation in their sport, and we hope that their efforts in bringing this project to a successful conclusion are rewarded with a greater number of people joining its ranks.”

The Banks Community Fund provides grants for community groups and voluntary organisations in the vicinity of Banks Group projects.

Anyone interested in applying for funding should contact James Eaglesham at the Banks Community Fund on 0191 378 6342 to check if their group or project is eligible.

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