A passion for fisheries has led to mature student Mark Fordham, who is studying for an Institute of Fisheries Management Diploma, winning this year’s Ann Voss-Bark Memorial Award.

The award, created in memory of Anne Voss-Bark, who was one of the founding members of Westcountry Rivers Trust, supports aspiring students gain real life experience in fisheries catchment management.

It has been set up by Salmon & Trout Conservation in collaboration with the Arundel Arms and Fario Club. The Arundel Arms plays a big part in Westcountry Rivers Trust’s history. For more than 50 years, Anne developed the inn into today’s eminent fishing hotel, and it was here the original trustees gathered to tie up their plans for creating the trust. 

Anne was a passionate fly fisherman and conservationist. She worked tirelessly to reverse changes in the countryside that were detrimental to our rivers and fish. Her Award celebrates this by supporting a student who wants to work in this sector.

Mark received one week’s work experience with the us to gain hands-on catchment management and water science experience from our eminent scientists; a two day fly fishing course; a complimentary stay at the Arundell Arms hotel; and £250.

“The award was recommended by my course tutor,” he said, “and I could clearly see how much this opportunity would benefit me.”

“I work long full-time hours, with further commitments and a young child so gaining practical experience isn’t easy for me in the traditional way so I was elated to win.

“I never expected to; it gave me a massive confidence boost. I’ve put a lot of time and effort into getting this far with my course, so it felt like other people recognise that and believe in me as a serious future industry professional.”

We are pleased to have been able to support Mark in his studies. He spent his time with us visiting a gravel augmentation scheme, seeing the modification/removal of barriers to fish passage, reviewing how GIS and electro fishing survey data is compiled and edited, watching remedial habitat work in action, and assisting with catchment management .

“This week has allowed me to take the time to consider how the theory I have learned so far as a student is put into practice in real world scenarios.

“Its been particularly useful looking at project works, both previous and current – and understanding what has been done and why – and it’s been useful for me to review detailed operations work, which is an area that particularly interests me for the future.”

Mark is almost at the end of his course and beginning his search for a job in the industry relating to river operations and habitat improvement, or jobs along a similar theme that include fisheries work such as estate rangers or environmental specialist jobs.

We wish him huge success for his future fisheries career.

He is pictured below, along with some of the sites he visited during his stay.