Pupils given the chance to learn about the environment as part of Think Big

Schoolchildren from Runcorn took the bait when they were invited to learn more about the environment.

Pupils from Ormiston Bolingbroke Academy were given the chance by O2 to compete against each other at The Big Fish Off at Ackers Pit in Warrington for a number of prizes including full fishing equipment and Online Fishing TV memberships.

The event was held as part of Think Big programme to help young people become more environmentally aware of their surroundings and the importance of social engagement in their everyday lives.

Think Big is an initiative run by O2 to help young people turn their ideas, energy and enthusiasm into reality.

Think Big helps them get going by providing training and funding to make their ideas work. The idea is to change the way young people think about themselves, their communities and their environment.

Ian Gelling from O2 Preston Brook, who organised the Big Fish Off, explained where the idea came from.

 “Social engagement is sadly missing nowadays, so this was a really good way for the children to help rebuild a social connection with the environment and with each other. Ormiston Bolingbroke Academy asked all of their pupils to write a short essay saying why they wanted to take part in The Big Fish Off. The 10 most compelling won the chance to take part in the competition at Ackers Pit. Prizes on the day were supported by Tackle Bargains.

Ackers Pit a small fishery located in Stockton Heath, Warrington. The area is a popular beauty- spot and offers accessible fishing to its members. The lake had significant landscaping work done in 2007 but has since been reopened and stocked with a variety of freshwater fish. The youngsters were able to catch a variety of fish such as roach, perch, and bream as well as the newly introduced mirror carp.

The children spent the day helping each other and working as a team while competing for individual honours. Prizes were awarded for biggest fish, heaviest total catch and most improved angler.

Scott Hughes caught the biggest fish while Liam Birch won the award for overall heaviest catch, weighing in at an amazing 10lb 4oz. Both Scott and Liam took home with them a certificate and a trophy, along with a membership to Online Fishing TV and a full set of fishing equipment including nets. The most Improved Angler award went to Anthony Marshall who was the only non-angler on the day; Andy caught 54 fish and won a complete set of fishing equipment along with a trophy and certificate.

All the fishing equipment was provided by Leeda, a UK distributor of fishing tackle, and two national fishing coaches were also on hand throughout the competition giving advice and judging the talent. The coaches were Dean Barlow who is a full England international angler and Martin James who is an Environment Agency Level 2 Coach.