Soldiers from the Personnel Recovery Centre in Edinburgh recently returned from action in Afghanistan, together with service veterans from Erskine Hospital, enjoyed a week of salmon fishing on the River Tweed in mid-July.

Organised and hosted by The Tweed Foundation and The Wheelyboat Trust, with fishing equipment and instruction provided by Hardy and Greys of Alnwick, some 25 servicemen took a break from their recovery programmes to learn the art of fly-casting and fishing for salmon. Specially designed boats (‘wheelyboats’), the product of a collaboration between The Wheelyboat Trust and The Tweed Foundation, were used by some of the injured soldiers.

Highlights of the week were the casting demonstrations given by Ian Gordon of Hardy and Greys and the salmon caught by Rifleman John Burns and by Peter Wilson, aged 89, a veteran of the Battle of Britain – both men catching and landing their first-ever salmon. As students of the art, Ian said, "They were very enthusiastic and quick learners wanting to further develop their newly acquired skills.”

Rifleman Kyle Baker from 3rd Battalion The Rifles commented: “It's great! I've received fly fishing tuition from one of the best professionals in the country, Ian Gordon, and it is all part of my rehabilitation therapy after receiving a gunshot wound in the back while serving in Afghanistan.”

Major Kevin Wood, secretary of the Army Angling Association, explained: “As part of the welfare component of their recovery, personnel are invited to participate in a week of fishing and instruction and the troops, mostly newcomers to fishing, have really enjoyed the experience. Our special thanks go to Peter Straker-Smith who donated the fishing on his beat and to The Tweed Foundation and The Wheelyboat Trust for their organisation.”

Nick Yonge, Director of The Tweed Foundation, said: “This pilot week on Tweed has worked tremendously well. Tweed wanted to do something to help injured services personnel and, in addition to gifting some wonderful fishing opportunities, we also have the benefit of being able to offer the wheelyboats specially tailored for ease of use by wheelchair users, enabling them to get the most out of their angling experience.”

Bill Quarry, for The Wheelyboat Trust, said: “We are all pleased that everyone enjoyed the occasion and would be delighted to organise a similar event next year and to follow up with more fishing for the individual servicemen who would like to fish more frequently. The Trust is grateful for the volunteer Boatmen, Lee Craig, John Edey, Bob Smith, Paul Hume and Tom Davis who gave their time to help with the fishing and tuition, and also wish to thank the local sponsors of the event: Best Intent, Bordaloo, Foreman Butchers, Ednam House Hotel, Queens Head Hotel, Collingwood Arms Hotel, Gill Orde in Catering, Hardy and Greys, Tweedside Tackle and the Teviot Gamefare Smokery plus numerous cash donations from generous individuals.”

Issued on behalf of The Tweed Foundation