As the Countryside Alliance celebrates its tenth anniversary*, young Stoke-based angling instructor Sakina Haleem has been picked as one of ten national  “Rural Heroes” to represent a decade of rural change and determination.

Sakina, born Corina Smith, is one of ten heroes selected from across Britain to tell their story and represent rural life as it is now.

Sakina is a Senior Peer coach for Get Hooked on Fishing, an Alliance-backed initiative which inspires youngsters through angling.

Sakina’s father, Dave Smith, set up the Midshires scheme, and Sakina is heavily involved in promoting angling as an inclusive, enjoyable and socially beneficial pastime. She has always had a huge commitment to give something back to angling and has proved to be a great asset to ‘Get Hooked on Fishing’ – for this, she has been chosen as a Rural Hero. In 2004 Sakina converted to Islam on marrying a Muslim, and her influence has seen Get Hooked broadening its reach into the Muslim community.

The ten “Rural Heroes” have been picked because their stories are inspiring, whether in farming, country sports or running a rural business or service. Together, they paint an honest and truthful picture of rural Britain since the Alliance was formed in 1997.

Clare Rowson, Countryside Alliance Regional Director for the Midlands, commented: “Some of our heroes stories are sad; some are positive, but there remains a feeling that rural life has survived Blair’s decade despite the Government, not because of it. There is a feeling that rural issues were never high on the agenda in “Cool Britannia”, and that to a very urban Government the countryside was “another country” to be used rather than lived in.

“In the end, we think that one thing shines through all of these stories – hope.  However the last ten years have treated them they are all looking forward to the next decade, and Sakina is a great example of someone who is giving something back and making a real difference.”