The first ever fly fishing retreat to be held in Ireland took place at Brookhall Trout Fishery near Lisburn from 19-21st September when fourteen women from all over Ireland came together through Casting for Recovery, a unique outdoor-based programme specifically designed for women who have, or have had, breast cancer.
Casting for Recovery provides fly fishing programmes at idyllic retreats around the UK and Ireland. The Brookhall retreat was the fourth to be held, and the first to be held in Ireland. Any woman who has experienced breast cancer is eligible to apply to attend a retreat (with medical clearance from their doctor). Retreats take place over two-and-a-half days and all accommodation, meals, counselling, and professional instruction are provided at no cost to participants due to the financial backing of the Countryside Alliance, although the fishing at Brookhall was kindly donated by owners Kenny Ferguson, Cathryne Boyce, and Marty Robb. Trained female medical staff and fly fishing instructors are on hand at all times and the fishing tackle and appropriate clothing is provided by Orvis UK. In support of Casting for Recovery’s aims the Department of Culture Arts and Leisure (DCAL) Northern Ireland donated a substantial number of fish to supplement the already generously stocked water at Brookhall.
Fly fishing offers proven benefits for recovering breast cancer patients. The casting action provides the gentle exercise recommended by physiotherapists for joint and soft tissue mobility. Fly fishing also offers participants a chance to reflect and escape in tranquil surroundings. Casting for Recovery was founded in the United States in 1996 and has since helped over 3,000 breast cancer survivors.
The UK and Ireland Programme Co-ordinator is Sue Hunter, who recovered from breast cancer to become an international gold medallist fly fisher. Sue said: “The ethos of Casting for Recovery is to bring ladies together to relax, learn a new skill and meet others with whom they have the shared experience of breast cancer. I cannot thank the team at Brookhall enough – they provided the ladies with a wonderful experience that they will never forget and they really understood Casting for Recovery’s aims. These fourteen ladies have had the perfect Casting for Recovery retreat – where else can you practice your casting with Vietnamese pot bellied pigs rambling past? We will be delighted to come back to Brookhall in 2009 to do it all again!”