Wednesday, 19 November 2008

Delivering our way out of the economic gloom

We are now entering uncertain economic times. For a small charity like WTT there may well be impacts on our core income, in terms of donations, memberships, raffles and auctions. At WTT we are acutely aware of this (we never take income for granted) and we are currently looking at ways of mitigating against any loss of income to allow us to continue to deliver our conservation work. All aspects of our business are under scrutiny including discretionary spending. We may be faced with some difficult decisions and the odd 'sacred cow' may have to be put out to grass. This is the harsh reality of working in the charitable sector - when people feel the pinch, charitable giving could be one of the first casualties. Although the Children In Need appeal seemed to buck the trend!

However, despite the doom and gloom, I am feeling very positive. Whilst we can't spend our way out of a recession, I feel we can deliver our way out of it. Ten years of very hard work has turned WTT into a highly efficient, action focused organisation that has always delivered on it's promises. We have a sound platform to keep moving forward. This is all backed-up by a robust budget, annual business plan, five year strategy and conservation, funding and communications strategies. The team at WTT is a formidable one. Our Conservation Team, Administrator, Executive, Trustees and Presidents are all incredible people. We are an ideas factory and have a huge array of experience and skills to steer us a on a safe voyage through difficult economic waters.

Partnership is a central to everything that WTT does. In the last ten years we have developed national partnerships with The Environment Agency (England & Wales) Natural England, Loughs Agency (Northern Ireland), National Trust, Association of Rivers Trusts, Rivers & Fisheries Trusts of Scotland (RAFTS), Esmee Fairbairn Foundation, various Wildlife Trusts, The Grayling Society, RiverFly Partnership and the Atlantic Salmon Trust.

We are now firmly established as third sector delivery partner and our funders recognise that we have a unique ability to blur the boundaries between fisheries and conservation. Coupled with this as an independent charity our advice is often taken more readily than that provided by organisations that have regulatory functions as well (even though it may be the same!)

Our project work is getting very exciting with Wild Trout Wales, Cinderella Chalk Rivers Project, Anglian Sea Trout Project, Trout in the Town, etc.... These projects not only inspire us, they inspire funders but most importantly the grassroots to start conservation projects.

Our approach during these tough times will be the same as always;

  • stay true to our founding principles

  • keep on delivering to high standards

  • develop innovative ideas and solutions

  • develop new and existing partnerships

  • be as efficient and prudent as possible

  • share knowledge

  • enjoy our work

Our corporate sponsors are backing us all the way. Special mention must be made of Orvis and Sage who have been there from the very start of the then Wild Trout Society....true friends indeed. New friends have come on board in the last 10 years too including, Hardy & Greys, Japanese Knotweed Solutions, John D Wood and the Lloyds Agricultural Mortgage Corporation, etc....their support is invaluable interms of finances but also in helping us to get a toes in the door of other board rooms.

Whether we are in boom or bust cycles ..I feel the top priority for WTT is the delivery of our conservation objectives and I can assure you that at WTT this will always be our top priority. This is why WTT was set-up and as far as I'm concerned it's Business as Usual.

Monday, 3 November 2008

Getting Your Passport To Wild Trout Heaven

As promised in my last blog I thought I would expand on the fishing passport schemes. Currently there are four initiatives being run by:

  • Eden Rivers Trust - Go Wild

  • West Country Rivers Trust - Angling 2000 (Devon & Cornwall)

  • Tyne Angling Passport - Tyne Rivers Trust

  • Wye & Usk Passport - Wye and Usk Foundation.

Between them the schemes represent some of the most enjoyable, accessible and affordable wild trout fishing in England & Wales. But the real beauty of the schemes is that they link farming, fishing and the environment. Many of the beats have been sourced as a direct result of habitat restoration works undertaken by individual rivers trusts. By marketing the fishing the farmer gets an income and will look upon the river as a asset. A river that is viewed in this this way by the people that own and manage means that it is much less likely to get damaged and polluted in the future.

All income (minus a small admin fee) goes back to the farmer for the maintenance of the beat.

WTT in conjunction with the Association of Rivers Trusts has launched a new website which acts as a gateway for fishermen wanting information on all four schemes.

By far the best organised and largest scheme is the Wye and Usk Passport scheme. With over 40 beats and 6okm of high quality fishing the opportunities and variation in rivers types is enough to keep even the most ardent of fly fishers occupied for some time!

For between £5-£10 you can not only enjoy some fantastic fishing but you are also putting something back into the sustainable management of the rivers, burns, etc in these beautiful catchments.

Go on.......... Go Wild!

Fair Do's

The WTT team have just returned from another successful two days at this years British Fly Fair. Despite the harsh economic conditions recruitment of new members was very good.

The stand was buzzing throughout the two days. Special thanks must go to Stuart Crofts was on-hand to man the ever popular 'Put the Fly back into your Flyfishing' exhibit. Paul Procter was also in attendance to demonstrate his considerable fly-tying skills. The event is always a great opportunity to catch-up with old friends, sponsors and new contacts. It is also particularly important in generating new requests for Advisory Visits and project funding.

This year I gave a talk on both days titled 'Getting your passport to wild trout heaven'. The talk highlighted the fishing passport schemes being run by Eden Rivers Trust, Tyne Rivers Trust, Wye and Usk Foundation and the West Country Rivers Trust. WTT has recently funded the development of a new website ( to act as a central point of information on these wonderful initiatives (more on my next blog) Despite having the early 'Graveyard Shift' the talk stimulated lots of interest and a few new members too.

The only downside to the weekend was having to go through the pain of watching the England cricket team get a complete trashing in the $20 million, 20:20 match...never mind!