The Angling Trust has appointed fishing pioneer George Stephenson as its new Chairman, with immediate effect. With several decades experience of managing safari and fishing businesses around the world, George Stephenson brings great knowledge, business acumen and an excellent contact list to the role of Chairman of the rapidly-growing and dynamic representative organisation for all anglers in England. The post was widely advertised and attracted a number of high quality applicants.
George Stephenson spent 25 years in Africa running safari camps before setting up a highly successful business for Roxton Bailey Robinson arranging fishing expeditions throughout the world. He is also Chairman of the Save the Rhino Campaign and he now lives on his farm in Wiltshire which includes two miles of the River Nadder and a carp lake. He has been a passionate all round angler since the age of 4, catching coarse, sea and game fish throughout the UK and around the world.
Among a host of notable catches in the UK and around the world, George considers the highlights to be a 23lb pike from the River Wye, a 32lb salmon from Iceland, a 96lb Nile Perch and a 30lb English Carp. Whilst he has caught many exotic species including long-tailed tuna on the fly from Kenya, sea trout from Argentina, black marlin, sailfish and tigerfish from Africa he still enjoys targeting brown trout, chub, grayling and bass back home in England.
The new Chairman has identified a number of priorities for the organisation over the coming years, which include:
- Accelerating the steady growth in membership of the Trust among individuals, clubs, fisheries, riparian owners, the angling trade, and charter boats.
- Increasing fundraising from private donors and corporate sponsorship to support specific campaigns and the English national angling teams.
- Continuing to develop the relationships with Sport England and in particular the Environment Agency to deliver the National Angling Strategy.
- Working more closely with the various disparate angling organisations in Wales and Scotland to create more unified representation for anglers throughout the UK.
- Recruiting new volunteers to the Angling Trust board to provide strategic direction to an organisation that turns over nearly £2.5 million a year and employs nearly 40 staff.
Mike Heylin has served as Chairman since shortly after the formation of the Trust in 2009, and announced his intention to step down at the AGM in 2012. He will remain as a member of the Board of Directors for the time being and said: “I feel privileged to have served the angling community for the past four years and proud of what the organisation has achieved in that time. I warmly welcome George Stephenson’s appointment to the role and feel that he has the skills and experience the organisation needs to take it forward to the next step in its development.”
New Angling Trust Chairman, George Stephenson said: “I am delighted and honoured to have this opportunity to give something back to fishing, which has been a very important part of my whole life. Mike Heylin, Mark Lloyd and all the Directors and staff of the Angling Trust should be congratulated for the enormous progress they have made since 2009 in unifying the angling community to support a single representative organisation. I look forward to working closely with them to develop plans to build on the success of the past four years. It is essential that all anglers are made aware of the excellent work being done on their behalf by the Angling Trust and its partner organisation Fish Legal.”
Fisheries Minister Richard Benyon said: “I have been very impressed by the Angling Trust and all that it has achieved in the past four years. They have robustly made the case for the protection of fish stocks and anglers’ right to fish for them and they are developing a wide range of programmes to deliver the National Angling Strategy which I launched last year. I know of George’s work and very much welcome his appointment as Chairman – his knowledge and experience of the world of angling and fisheries will, I’m sure, be very useful to the Trust in the next stage of its development. No doubt I will be hearing from him and his executive team often in my role as Fisheries Minister!”
Mark Lloyd, Chief Executive of the Angling Trust & Fish Legal said: “On behalf of all the staff and volunteers, I would like to thank Mike Heylin for the immense amount of time, energy and enthusiasm he has given to the Angling Trust. His dedication to angling and fisheries over forty years has culminated with a huge contribution to the formation and early development of our unified representative body. I am very grateful to George Stephenson for volunteering to take on this role and I am looking forward very much to working alongside him and the rest of the board to build on our success so far.”
Charles Jardine, from Fishing for Schools, said: “I am utterly delighted to hear of George’s appointment and I enthusiastically endorse him as the new Chairman of the Angling Trust as the unified body for all anglers. He is a beacon of common sense, someone who knows what the future needs - and how to get there.”