22.10.14

Carping For Brian

There are many reasons I love fishing. We all know that feeling of cradling a stunning creature for the camera after many years, and all the hard work has paid off. That feeling you get when you wake up to a beautiful sunrise with a cuppa in your hand, watching the next day unfold, as the mist swirls above the water and then out of nowhere the alarm bursts into life. Many things such as that spur us on as anglers, however when the fishing industry pulls together like it did last weekend, the true good side of our beloved sport was shown and has not only changed the life of a brave, inspirational man, but it has given a fellow angler and his family hope, determination and courage.

It all started last October when on the way home from the UK Carp Cup. A few of us who had been there over the weekend stopped off at the services to use the loo and have a bite to eat together. We all went and got ourselves some nice warm food, however Brian didn’t get anything, as he said he had a stomach ache. None of us thought anything of it, nor did Brian… until he went to the doctors after the symptoms got worse the following day. After a few tests at the hospital, soon I got the dreaded phone call from a distraught Brian, telling me that he had been diagnosed with bowel cancer. Brian’s only in his early forties, a tree surgeon who is extremely fit and in good shape, happily married and has three wonderful young daughters. Nothing could have turned his world more upside down. A couple of weeks before Christmas, Brian’s operation to temporarily remove his bowels and remove the tumour had arrived. After a painful six months of Brian being out of work, occasionally getting the rods out with the support and help of his friends and family, it was time for the reversal of his operation and putting his bowels back together in the hope the cancer was now gone and Brian could get back to normal. The operation went well, although as expected, the next couple of weeks spent recovering from the surgery was tough. A few weeks later, when due for a scan and a check up in the hope of the all-clear, Brian’s world came crashing down when he received the news that although the cancer in his bowels was gone, the cancer had spread to his liver. The story which is now about to unfold details how the angling industry has pulled together, shown friendship and kindness to help give Brian and his family support, stability, hope and courage as he tries to beat this nasty disease.

Due to being self-employed, Brian has been out of work since last October, during which time his wife Caroline devoted her life to looking after him at home and raising their three daughters Ruby, Becca and Jade. Before their world was turned upside down, Brian and Caroline wanted to have a family holiday and take their three girls to Disneyland. Brian also found out that, as a last resort, he may need to go to California for special treatment, which would increase his chances of survival. With this in mind, a few of us who are friends with Brian came up with the idea of holding a little charity match at Willows Farm Fishery in St Albans (thanks to Andy & Karen Burton at Willows). Between us we set out to raise some money specifically for Brian and his family to help them through this tough time and achieve Brian’s dream of taking his daughters to Disneyland. What happened next though is incredible and has rocked the angling industry.
Before we knew it, the event got bigger. Many of our friends in the angling industry, and even those in the industry who didn’t know Brian, but wanted to support a worthy cause, got involved and the event seemed to mushroom. Generous raffles and auction prizes were soon being donated by many companies in the angling industry. Tackle shops were also offering gift vouchers, fishery owners at home and abroad were donating prizes for exclusive trips to their lakes, and famous anglers offering tuitions and trips to their syndicates – the list goes on and on! Not only this, but fellow anglers were donating money into the fund for Brian. The support that came flooding in was incredible. Lads like Chris ‘Bones’ Holmes donated £100 for a fellow carper and friend of Brian’s, Wayne Mansford, wore a Custom T-shirt of his choice for the weekend. It’ll probably be the first time you’ve see a Tottenham FC Badge being worn by a die-hard Gooner! Every time a new prize or donation was received and we informed Brian of the news, a tear of happiness and joy was shed. As Brian has said all along, “Words will never describe how thankful and grateful I am”.

A special mention must go to fellow carper, Mick ‘Dee Dee’, known for his Anglers Charity Auctions and #TheRoseAppeal. (Please check his charities and auctions out on Facebook!) Mick had never even met Brian before, but he saw the angling community coming together and supporting Brian and decided to put his own charity fundraising on hold and sourced prizes, which he then auctioned through social media, along with hosting a fund raising event at Farlows Lake, all in aid of Brian and his family and raised over £6,500!

Although a match had been organised, the spirit and format of the match wasn’t serious at all. It would be teams of three, with one rod each and the winner would be the team who caught the biggest fish over the weekend. Rather than fish, many people just chose to bivvy up for the weekend and enjoy the massive social. There were no marshals, officials or rules involved – it was purely a social get-together, supporting Brian with a bit of fishing on the side.

The weather for the weekend was forecast to be very wet and windy, however it was as if someone was looking down upon us, as the weather was glorious and perfectly complimented the BBQ and perfect socialising conditions! Back in his day, Brian used to be a Drum & Bass DJ, so he dug out all his old DJ equipment and supplied us with music all weekend, as he relived his memories behind the decks. During the daytime the rods went out of for a couple of hours and in the swims in front of the marquee, people took turns playing and catching a couple of fish, however time was mostly spent with everyone gathered around socialising and genuinely just having a brilliant time! The evenings were spectacular, involving plenty of karaoke, singing, dancing and entertainment.

On the final morning, everyone gathered around the marquee for the live auctions and raffles, along with a heart-warming and emotional speech from Brian himself. In total, a phenomenal £22,210.69 has been raised, all in aid of genuinely good guy, giving him the strength and courage to fight his battle and support him and his family during this tough time as well as achieving his dream of taking his young family to Disneyland.

It’s amazing what can happen when a community comes together. It’s not all about catching fish. Fishing for me is about enjoyment and achievement – we wouldn’t do it otherwise, and last weekend purely was a bundle of joy and what was achieved from the event means more to me than any capture I have ever had. A massive thank-you goes to everyone who donated and contributed to the event.

As I finish writing this, I’m getting ready to head back home for the weekend to meet up with Brian and his family to go out for a meal together, as next week he goes in for surgery to remove part of his liver and kidneys. Fingers crossed for you mate, we wish you all the best!
Brad Greening.

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