Representatives from across the UK are set to congregate in County Durham to learn how angling can help develop the academic and social skills of young people.

Get Hooked on Fishing, the successful scheme backed by the Environment Agency, hosts its first conference on Tuesday 16 & Wednesday 17 January. Delegates from everywhere from Lockerbie to Southampton will come to Witton Park in County Durham to learn how angling can engage youngsters of all abilities and provide an enticing alternative to anti social behaviour.

Dr Adam Brown will be a guest speaker at the conference and will launch his research-based paper ‘Getting Hooked’. The report highlights how angling can bring about skills development for individuals, improve truancy and anti social behaviour and calls for better government support for the scheme.

To help deliver to the Trust’s strategic plan of 30 Get Hooked schemes across the UK by 2010, the board have strengthened their trustee board by recruiting key representatives from the angling arena: Charles Jardine, David Hall, Roy Marlowe and Sean O’Driscoll.

Judge John Milford is Chair of the Get Hooked Charitable Trust and commented, ‘I am delighted by how the charity has progressed; we are now the largest charity in the UK introducing young people to angling. I am confident that the new trustees will help us make even more significant progress’.

Witton Park was chosen for the venue of the conference as it was there seven years ago that the idea for the first scheme was hatched by local policeman, Mick Watson, and a Sunderland teenager. The two are now directors of a locally based social enterprise company, Get Hooked North East Ltd, and the proud new owners of the three fishing lakes on the 38 acre site.