Angling loses a friend

Ken Ball 1932 – 2008

It is with deep sadness that the National Federation of Anglers has to announce the passing away of Ken Ball who died Wednesday February 20, 2008 aged 75. Ken was President of the NFA for 12 years from 1992 – 2004 and will be remembered for his outstanding contribution to the sport and his ever present enthusiasm for angling.

Ken was the founding force behind Milton Keynes Angling Association – back in 1970 – a new generation of angling bodies set up to meet the, then, unique situation of a new city being built in a largely rural area. It is a tribute to his foresight and determination that it went on to become one of the larger, more successful and influential angling clubs in the country.

An engineer by trade he had done national service with the Parachute Regiment and took his para’s feet-first training into angling administration – an approach helping him win many early political skirmishes.

Initially diametrically opposed to the sport’s national establishment he eventually became – on his own terms – part of it and was elected president of the NFA in 1992, holding that post until 2004. Prior to that he had served five years as an NFA vice president. He was still NFA Eastern Region chairman at the time of his death.

During his tenure as NFA president he led moves to increasingly professionalise its operation and oversaw acquisition of its wholly-owned headquarters – probably the body’s most financially stable period in its modern history. He was also in the vanguard, with positive effect, the trend to work with – rather than to just shout at – national government and governmental bodies the likes of the NRA, EA and British Waterways.

He also developed a reputation for working to resolving disputes within the sport, using a logical approach and a determination to be fair to all – something which didn’t always go down too well with those who couldn’t have things all their own way.

Though in angling politics he was not a true politician…tending to go for what he believed was right rather than what was most easily achievable.

Up until the time he went into hospital Ken, though ‘retired’ from national angling administration was still an active MKAA executive committee member and representing both it and the Upper Ouse Fisheries Consultative Association at meetings, particularly with the Environment Agency, all over the country.

His proudest moments in angling included MKAA being promoted into Division One back in 1990 – winning the junior national in the same year – and in 2003 when the association hosted a Ladies World Championships on one of its waters in the new city.

Current MKAA chairman Trevor Johnson, who knew Ken for 36 years, said: “Like life, angling is full of people who say ‘THEY should do this, THEY should change that.’ Ken was one in a million – and that’s not too much of an exaggeration – who would say ‘That needs changing – let’s get in there and do it.’

“A great many people disagreed with him from time to time – including myself – but very few ever questioned his integrity. He was almost universally respected as an honest bloke who gave his all for angling. The sport will be the poorer for his passing.

“His sense of humour was irrepressible and, only 48 hours before he died he rang me from hospital and said ‘Just calling to let you know I’m still alive, mate.’ Given the circumstances even I was struggling for a suitable reply to that.”

Ken was a fighter through and through. Having been in hospital since before Christmas he had fought off a series of blood infections, each one of which physically weakened him further, and in the end his heart couldn’t take any more.

NFA Chairman Terry Fell would like to add, “Angling has lost a great ambassador and great character who will be sadly missed by all in angling and especially his family.”

Ken, who lived at Newport Pagnell in Milton Keynes, is survived by his wife, Pauline, two daughters and their families.

Words by Chairman of MKAA and friend of Ken, Trevor Johnson